Canada & NASA are together in the midst of RRM mission. And they have been successful to date in performing the refueling & servicing on a faux satellite attached to the outside of the ISS. It isn’t as easy as one might think: cutting and peeling back protective thermal blankets, unscrewing caps, turning valves, and transferring fluid all into a satellite where these things were done once - on earth prelaunch, then sealed up never planning to be done again.
The monetary benefits to the world cannot be argued. Take a satellite, average cost to launch? 10 million. Average cost for a satellite? Around $100 million. Average lifespan of a satellite: that’s more difficult and varies depending on size, original fuel amount, technology onboard, the orbit, etcetera - it can be anywhere from two to fifteen years. What is the result to be realized? If the satellite lasts longer that’s less money spent replacing it and therefore money in your pocket as the tax payer or as the consumer.
There have already been many successful steps completed in the mission to date Dextre is able to open the ‘permanently’ sealed satellite, fuel it up, check under the hood, all successfully.
A fuel depot in space is planned for NASA & Canada’s combined mission. A mission that will not only save money, but also save space junk, and by fueling the satellites, by allowing them the necessary mobility, free up the geosynchronous orbit for the passing of the Space Elevator. –A side note, ever notice that every thing NASA does takes care of three or four things at one time?
Canada has worked on and now offers a new, smaller, NGC (Next Generation Canadarm). A five part robotic system that enables the satellite refueling & repair in a new & improved robot arm. With a new and improved method of not only doing the basic refueling skills but also developing skills that deal with the approach, the docking, the servicing and undocking of the spacecraft for maintenance and refueling. It is also capable of being retracted having telescope sections that will enable it to fit in a small spacecraft that is currently being developed.
It was hard not to worry about the next step in this huge undertaking, but it looks as if NASA & Canada have no doubts. The technology and the plan are sound and the benefits are almost out of this world.