The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has hatched a plan for servicing satellites in orbit that seems distinctly out of sync with the priorities of the Trump administration. The project is called “Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites,” and it was conceived to extend the lives of both government and commercial satellites in high orbit — including spy satellites. But the research agency wants to subsidize a foreign-owned company to develop the capability, even though a U.S.-based company is already developing the technology and will demonstrate it sooner. Which raises some obvious questions. Why does DARPA want a foreign-controlled enterprise to service highly classified spy satellites? Why is it spending taxpayer money to develop a capability that is already being privately funded in the marketplace? Why is the agency undermining a commercial space initiative and distorting market forces — in violation of national space policy? I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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