back to article DARPA's robot sat-fixing program survives sueball strike

Aerospace company Orbital ATK has failed in a legal bid to halt a DARPA contract for robotic satellite maintenance devices and will instead see if the White House can help it to bring the work to the private sector. The lawsuit centres around contracts awarded last year, after years of investigations, that would launch a test …

  1. redpawn

    American Private Sector Magic

    Only the private sector can do anything real. And by real I mean that someone has to make buckets of money off it or it isn't worth a damn. We will have to go bankrupt at the alter of capitalism to fix our defective health care so why should we allow the government to fix satellites when a company can make buckets of money preventing others from doing so?

  2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    I'm not sure Orbital lobbed sueballs as often as ATK, but it's certainly getting the taste

    ATK are an old school government con-tractor.

    They're feeling pain because their only big contract are the SRB's for the SLS, and no one's sure how many of those will be launched before someone finally wakes up to what a huge amount of money it is to keep a bunch of people in Utah and Florida employed.

  3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    So is Orbital ATK suddenly so into "govnm't expenditure watch"

    I suppose there is no ulterior motive and its motivations are as pure as driven snow?

    I hope they will take up the Afghan "surge" next (laughably, 5000 dudes and dudettes to be shipped over to check whether the local IED industry is still top notch)

  4. Hairy Spod
    Paris Hilton

    sorry for being dense

    What does beyond the range of space walk technology mean?

    Rocket goes to up to sat, man jumps out, hits it with spanner, jumps back in and goes home no?

    Paris cos its written like I should know.

    1. IT Poser

      Re: What does beyond the range of space walk technology mean?

      It means that Orbital ATK is not planning any manned spacecraft that can reach GSO.

      As any fule kno Orbital ATK is the bestest rocket company ever. If they aren't able to get a person to GSO then no one can. Therefore, in order to extend the range of space walk technology the only solution is to give Orbital ATK $xxx billion to build a new rocket or drop the matter completely.

  5. MisterNineThousand

    It centres around the 'Rocket goes up' bit

    Going to a higher orbit takes more energy, and no manned vehicle can go above about 800 km right now. Since there is only the one (Soyuz) that can take people into space and that's it's range on it's normal launch platform. Back in the shuttle era the limit was even lower, since the shuttle weighed so much, and had a very delicate reentry window, almost no missions went over 500km(Hubble was the highest, @ 620km). For reference Geostationary sats live at about 35700 km.

    The Falcon Heavy will be able to launch a Dragon 2 into that orbit and the SLS will be able to make that as well, but the SLS is looking at 1-2 billion dollars per launch so there is no satellite that is worth spending that much to fix.

    If DARPA can make it work, and SSL can build these for less than a hundred million, there would be a massive market for this service. Maybe even make the robot refuel-able and reload-able and just have it flit around fixing and fuelling sats for years!

    1. Hairy Spod

      thank you both

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