COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — When Maxar Technologies stepped down as prime contractor for the U.S. government’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program in January, it also backed away from a commercial venture meant to turn satellite servicing into a business.
A smaller program building a robotic arm for in-orbit satellite assembly could be Maxar’s next best bet to commercialize robotic capabilities in space.
Speaking at the 35th Space Symposium here April 8, John Lymer, Maxar’s chief roboticist, said the company is committed to finishing Dragonfly, a NASA program to assemble spacecraft parts in orbit, enabling antennas and other systems to launch more compactly inside a rocket’s payload fairing.
“Really what we’re trying to do here is produce a building block — the robotic building block — that we hope can change the way satellites do business in orbit,” he said.
Maxar is building Dragonfly through a public-private partnership with NASA. Lymer said Maxar has invested more than $10 million on Dragonfly, an amount he described as “significantly less” than what RSGS required.
Lymer’s presentation described Dragonfly as a 76-kilogram robotic arm that can reach out five meters from its base. The robotic arm will have backups for ...