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Refueling in space could extend satellites’ lives and spacecrafts’ travels

on March 10, 2014

Gigaom

Just as with a car, regular maintenance will extend a satellite’s lifetime and ensure that a problem like running out of fuel doesn’t cut its usefulness short. But reaching a satellite to deliver much-needed services can be difficult and expensive when a satellite is orbiting the Earth.

NASA is testing a few tools that would make it much easier to repair and refuel satellites — even those that were never designed to receive maintenance.  The agency just successfully tested a robotic arm refueling system on the ground and is now gearing up to bring it to the International Space Station for further tests.

“With more than 400 satellites in space that could benefit from robotic servicing, we thought a refueling test was the best place to start,” NASA Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office associate director Frank Cepollina said in a NASA post. “We wanted to demonstrate technologies that build life-extension capabilities…

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