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Proposal would 'recycle' satellite parts
by Staff Writers
Washington (UPI) Oct 21, 2011

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only

The U.S. Department of Defense says it is looking for ways to recycle space junk thousands of miles above Earth into valuable new satellite parts.

A program called Phoenix, under the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, would recycle still-functioning pieces of defunct satellites and incorporate them into new space systems inexpensively, SPACE.com reported Friday.

The proposal is for a robot mechanic-like vehicle with grasping mechanical arms and remote vision systems to harvest still-working antennas from retired and dead satellites in geosynchronous orbit 22,000 miles above Earth and then attach them to small nanosatellites launched cheaply from Earth.

Antennas are big and bulky, requiring a lot of rocket fuel to put them in orbit, while launching the antenna-less small "satlets" would be much cheaper, experts said.

"If this program is successful, space debris becomes space resource," DARPA director Regina Dugan said in a statement.

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