NASA tests new robotic refueling platform

Currently, every satellite put into orbit will become interstellar refuse, destined to be tracked by DARPA or eventually disposed of by gigantic lasers. Naturally, NASA’s not so keen on such waste, and it knows that many satellites’ shelf lives can be extended with the addition of more fuel. Enter the Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test, a project aimed at building a robot platform capable of refilling satellite fuel tanks both on earth and in space.

It’s corrosive, it’s hazardous, and it can cause an explosion powerful enough to thrust a satellite forward in space. Multiple NASA centers are currently conducting a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer this dangerous fluid — satellite oxidizer — into the propellant tanks of spacecraft in space today. Building on the success of the International Space Station’s landmark Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) demonstration, the ground-based Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test (RROxiTT) is taking another step forward in NASA’s ongoing campaign to develop satellite-servicing capabilities for space architectures and human exploration.  On Earth, RROxiTT technologies could one day be applied to robotically replenish satellites before they launch, keeping humans at a safe distance during an extremely hazardous operation.

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