NASA Has Decided To Cancel Multbillion-Dollar Satellite Servicing Demo Mission

NASA has decided to cancel a mission aimed at showcasing robotic satellite servicing technology in orbit due to being over budget and behind schedule. The project, known as OSAM-1 (On-orbit Servicing Assembly, and Manufacturing 1), has already incurred costs of $1.5 billion, with projections indicating it would require an additional nearly $1 billion to reach the launch pad. The mission involved grappling an aging Landsat satellite in orbit to attempt refueling it, alongside demonstrating the construction of an antenna in space using a robotic arm.

NASA revealed on Friday that despite the partial construction of the spacecraft for the OSAM-1 mission, the project has been canceled after a thorough independent review. The decision to cancel the mission was attributed to ongoing technical, cost, and schedule difficulties faced by the space agency.

Since NASA initiated the project in 2016, the cost of the mission has significantly increased. Initially focused solely on a refueling demonstration, the mission’s scope expanded in 2020 to include an in-orbit assembly objective. This new objective involved integrating the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER), a sophisticated 16-foot-long (5-meter) robotic arm tasked with assembling seven structural elements to create a single Ka-band communications antenna.

Restore-L, followed by OSAM-1, has consistently received backing from Congress. The mission was overseen by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Former Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-Maryland) played a significant role in supporting NASA missions managed at Goddard, such as the James Webb Space Telescope. She held a prominent position as the leading Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Committee when Congress commenced funding for Restore-L in late 2015.


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