The following first appeared as a case study in the Department of Defense Other Transaction Guide. It is approved for unlimited distribution.
Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) is DARPA’s first public-private partnership in the Space Servicing Domain. The requirement is for RSGS in Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO). High-cost GEO satellites are regularly discarded when there are no feasible options for upgrade, modification, or repair. RSGS will change that by providing dexterous robotic servicing technologies in GEO. The long-term goal is to have regular, reliable, and responsive robotic servicing capabilities in GEO, operated by a commercial entity, which services both Government and commercial satellites. As a result of this new GEO activity, a new marketplace may emerge where both Government and private industry pay a fraction of the satellite’s remaining value to a commercial firm to service, upgrade, modify, or repair the satellite to maintain its operability. Industry will provide the “bus” or space-lift vehicle for delivery into space for a fee. In turn, Government (or another commercial client(s)) will provide the “payload” or servicing robotic satellite to launch into space and/or update, modify, or repair other satellites.
Implementation and Execution:
DARPA conducted extensive market research with public and private entities in the space, launch, and satellite industries over a two-year period. DARPA posted the solicitation in May 2016 and awarded a Prototype OT in April 2017, which has a period of performance through the first quarter of CY 2022. Evaluations followed a four-step process:
Outcomes and Lessons Learned: