Space Robots – Innovation’s Newest Frontier

Innovation.  The US Defense Department’s Advanced Research Projects Agency DARPA is on an innovation mission to innovate new space robots and send those space robots into space.  And so is NASA, developing space robots, including for the colonization of Mars.  Both agencies’ breakthrough innovation robotic space projects are fascinating, exciting and noteworthy to  Space robots are gamechanging and disruptive innovation that could generate exponential growth for the satellite industry and profoundly expand exploration of space.

DARPA is calling for a protocol to be established to allow robots to be sent into space on mission critical endeavors.  It has launched “Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations” or CONFERS to explore what it calls the “enormous potential” of space robots.  CONFERS is of high priority to DARPA.

First Application:  In-Orbit Satellite Servicing and Repair

The first application of these space robots would be to service satellites orbiting the earth.  Satellites become unusable when they start breaking down and are not accessible to being fixed.  DARPA believes regulations are needed to ensure the in-orbit robotic satellite servicing is done in a responsible and safe fashion.  It hopes the protocol will develop consensus standards to reduce financial, regulatory and diplomatic risks.  This while providing a framework to encourage the development of this innovation initiative.

DARPA plans to perform the first demonstration of robotic satellite servicing in 2021.  It hopes that by that time rules will be established for commercial in-orbit servicing.

NASA:  On a Mission to Mars

Meanwhile, NASA is working on its own space robots to one day colonize Mars.  It also hopes to take robots beyond the earth’s orbit through its Space Robotic Challenge.  The Challenge offers $1 million to teams able to program a virtual space robot modeled after NASA’s Robonaut R5.  The virtual robot needs to accomplish a number of tasks in a simulated Mars environment.

NASA has traditionally focused on three types of space robots:  servicers, cranes and rovers.  Services are humanized, multi-arm remote manipulators used to service and assemble.  Cranes are long, single arms used to reposition large masses.  And rovers are mobile platforms for transporting payloads on extraterrestrial surfaces and planetary servicers. finds the breakthrough innovation of utilizing space robots to service in-orbit satellites and eventually colonize Mars the next frontier of breakthrough innovation, where the sky is no longer the limit.  For more information, go to



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