"A DARPA-developed modular toolkit, including hardware and software, would be joined to a privately developed spacecraft to create a commercially owned and operated robotic servicing vehicle (RSV) that could make house calls in space," the release stated on Friday.
DARPA Program Manager Gordon Roesler noted that commercial and government space operators have sought such capability for decades.
"The ability to safely and cooperatively service satellites in GEO would vastly expand public and private opportunities in space," Roesler pointed out.
GEO, short for geosynchronous earth orbit, applies to stationary satellites 22,000 miles high, where the speed required for orbit matches the speed of earth’s rotation. In contrast, manned space flights typically circle in low-earth orbit, about 200 miles high.
DARPA plans to partner with a private contractor and begin demonstrating the technology within the next five years, according to the release.