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Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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NASA Wants to Build a Space Mechanic Robot

NASA

(Photo : Getty Images) Mission specialist, Astronaut Stephen K. Robinson, is anchored to a foot restraint on the International Space Station's Canadarm2 robotic arm, during his space walk to repair the underside of the space shutttle Discovery August 3, 2005.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) recently launched a project that will develop and create a robot spacecraft that will act as sort of space mechanic that can perform repairs on satellites while in orbit.

NASA announced that the contract to build such robot space mechanic was awarded to the California-based Space Systems/Loral, according to Computer World. The contract costs $127 million.

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The planned robot mechanic is called Restore-L. Based on NASA's plans, the robot should be able to grasp, relocate, and refuel satellites in low Earth orbit. The space mechanic can also test prototype technologies that will have applications for future missions.

Space Systems/Loral has three years to build the space mechanic. The project is expected to be launched in 2020.

The amount of fuel space satellites can carry is determined by engineers before they are launched into space. Without the ability to refuel once they are in space, space satellites' lifespan depend mostly on how much fuel they can carry into space. This lifespan can be cut even shorter when satellites encounter mechanical or electrical problems once in orbit.

As hundreds of satellites are nearing their operational lifespan, government agencies are now looking for alternative methods in order to remedy this problem. Engineers have come up with the idea of building a space robot that can perform tune-up and services while in space.

According to Gizmondo, the primary goal of the Restore-L robot is to refuel Landsat 8, an important Earth-monitoring satellite that is operated and monitored by the United States Geological Survey and NASA.

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