Friday, January 11, 2019

For the Want of a Nail...

          By Henry Stewart

The recent loss of Westminster CO based Maxar Technologies WorldView-4 satellite and the resulting catastrophic drop in Maxar stock prices, is a reminder to some that on-orbit satellite servicing is an idea whose time has come.

As outlined in the January 10th, 2019 The Verge post, "Fixing broken satellites in space could save companies big money," when your satellite breaks in space, "there isn’t an easy way to repair it."

Fortunately, "technology that’s currently on the horizon may change that." Or, it may not.

The post noted several organizations and corporations currently working to commercialize on-orbit satellite servicing technologies including  Broomfield CO based Altius Space Machines and Singapore based Astroscale Space Debris

The post also noted Maxar expertise in this area and its contribution to NASA's long-proposed but little funded RESTORE-L program, a "free-flying mission projected to launch in 2020 to perform in-orbit satellite servicing on an operational government asset in low-Earth orbit," according to Gunter's Space page.

As outlined in the March 19th, 2017 post, "American MDA Subsidiary Promotes "DEXTRE" for US as NASA RESTORE-L Satellite Servicing Budget Slashed," NASA cut funding for RESTORE-L from $133Mln US ($178Mln CDN) to $45Mln US ($60Mln CDN) in fiscal year 2018 and scaled back development work on the program.

The Restore-L program has been languishing in development "purgatory" ever since.

As mentioned many times before in this blog, Maxar and its predecessor organization, Richmond BC based MacDonald Dettwiler have been working for years to repurpose well understood Canadarm technologies for on-orbit satellite servicing but the stars never aligned and nothing ever moved forward.

Kinda reminds you of that old proverb, reminding us that seemingly unimportant acts or omissions can have grave and unforeseen consequences over the long-term.

Henry Stewart is the pseudonym of a Toronto based aerospace writer.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Support our Patreon Page