Photo: Artist rendering of L-Restore. Credit: NASA.
NASA just awarded a $127 million contract to a California-based satellite company to build a robotic spacecraft capable of repairing satellites in low earth orbit. The spacecraft, called “Restore-L”, will be able to grasp, refuel and relocate satellites in orbit, while also testing technologies for future missions.
Restore-L is expected to be launched in 2020, and is anticipated to increase the lifespan of satellites in orbit. It’s first objective will be refueling Landsat 7, an Earth-monitoring satellite operated by NASA and the US geological survey. The robotic mechanic spacecraft may also be tasked with cleaning up space junk orbiting Earth, as well as supporting the ambitious Asteroid Redirect Mission, which plans to lasso an asteroid and lock it into lunar orbit.