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DARPA to revive 1300 retired satellites

US: Through its Phoenix Programme, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in the US will award USD 36 million to contractors to revive more than 1,300 retired satellites in geostationary orbit (GEO). The agency aims to create a new communications system for military personnel, according to a broad agency announcement posted on FedBizOpps.gov.

The agency wants to send mini robots into space to recycle and reuse antennas of dormant satellites. For the same purpose, the Department of Defense (DOD) wants to create a new satellite and robotic system to revive USD 300 billion worth of retired satellites.

Their position in the GEO makes them prime targets for reuse because the satellites have large radio frequency apertures that can cover large areas of the earth’s surface, according to the announcement. The programme hopes to send smaller, companion satellites into space to connect with the dormant satellites to reuse the apertures.

DARPA aims to demonstrate at least one successful aperture repurposing using a robotic spacecraft between 2015 and 2016. Interested parties have until February 6, 2012, to respond to the announcement.

Source: Information Week