US: Space Systems Loral — popularly known as SSL – has been awarded a contract from the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA to study on-orbit robotic assembly of geostationary communications satellites. Called Dragonfly, the program is designed to enable larger and more powerful satellites that cannot be launched fully assembled, to be packaged in pieces within a standard launch vehicle fairing. SSL, a leading provider of commercial satellites, has a track record of partnering with DARPA on cost-effective developments that leverage commercial practices and apply to both military and commercial use. The study is scheduled for a five-month first phase during which SSL will seek to demonstrate how assembling satellites on orbit could lower satellite cost and mass, while improving on performance. SSL is planning to further develop on-orbit satellite assembly capability. It has submitted a proposal to NASA for collaboration on taking the concept to a ground demonstration followed by a flight application.