[Via Satellite 08-26-2015] The United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded a contract to Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to study on-orbit robotic assembly of geostationary communications satellites. The program, dubbed Dragonfly, will evaluate ways to build satellites in space that would otherwise not fit within a standard launch vehicle fairing. The first phase of the program is five months, during which SSL plans to demonstrate how assembling satellites on orbit could lower satellite cost and mass, while at the same time enable higher satellite performance. The company has also submitted a proposal to NASA for collaboration on taking the concept to a ground demonstration, followed by a flight application.
The Dragonfly concept, which is designed to have both military and commercial applications, is for satellites to self-assemble from an efficiently stowed state while in orbit, with a focus on the installation and reconfiguration of large Radio Frequency (RF) antenna reflectors.
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