Feb 13, 2017 09:41 AM EST
The market for building space robots capable of carrying space cargo and aiding in space mission has certainly been heating up in the past few years. The competition is seeing a number of new entrants, all equipped with the latest technologies and the desire to excel.
According to the Watertown Daily Times, with the introduction of space robots built by the new age space companies, now it is possible to repair the damaged satellites and space stations at the right time. Satellite owners and the government can also save a huge amount of money on launch costs of new satellites. The amount of space debris from the damaged and abandoned satellites accumulated over the years can also be reduced to a great extent. For longer and complex space missions, these Space robots are expected to work efficiently and independent of human physical intervention.
Two major space robot manufacturers DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Project Agency) and Orbital ATK are the frontrunners in the Space Robots Industry. Orbital is in complete disapproval of the program that has been undertaken by DARPA, known as the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites.
Space robot maker Orbital claims that their own system, the Mission Extension Vehicle 1, powered by $200million from investors, has been facing unfair competition from DARPA, as it has made a coalition with Space Systems/Loral (SSL), a US subsidiary of the Canadian space equipment building company MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates, to build their project. Orbital alleges the contract is in violation of the federal policy against creating government space programs. The situation has gone even worse for Orbital as another NASA-funded initiative named Restore-L has also gone to the Canadian firm.
According to Space.com, Andrews Space from Seattle, Rocketplane Kistler from Oklahoma City, SpaceDev and El Segundo from California, Spacehab from Houston, and Reston from Virginia are some of the top players in the market to compete for the space robots facilitating commercial cargo and crew services to the International Space Station under the governance of NASA. The initiative, known as COTS (Commercial Orbital Transportation Services), a $500 million project by NASA over the next years, has selected the abovementioned space equipment building companies to serve from 20 hopefuls.
The frontrunners for COTS are Rocketplane Kistler, Spacehab and SpaceDev. SpaceX from Space Entrepreneur Elon Musk is another player that can pull up a few surprises. Considering its track record, technology and talent in hand, Space X is a serious contender in the space market. With NASA opening its gate to the private sector led space operation aids, the competition to build space robots is slated to grow even more fierce.
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