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NASA Wants To Build Robotic Gas Stations In Space

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A robonaut prototype working on the International Space Station. A NASA plan would place robots on unmanned stations to service Earth orbiting satellites. (Photo: NASA/JPL)

A robonaut prototype working on the International Space Station. A NASA plan would place robots on unmanned stations to service Earth orbiting satellites. (Photo: NASA/JPL)

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KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (CBS Tampa) – A gas station in space, staffed by robots. No. It’s not the latest sci-fi movie. It’s the latest brain child from NASA engineers, reports Space.com.

The idea is to provide a place to go for ailing satellites that orbit the Earch.

NASA’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office at Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland has been working with the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The goal is to find a way to extend the life of older satellites that would otherwise just become orbiting space junk.

“NASA hopes to add precious years of functional life to satellites and expand options for operators who face unexpected emergencies, tougher economic demands and aging fleets,” said NASA’s Bob Granath in a written statement.

The platform would be designed to orbit the Earth at what is called geosynchronous level…about 22,000 miles above the planet surface. That’s the altitude where it is easiest for satellites to “park” and maintain the same relative position over the planet as it spins on its axis.

More than 100 government-operated and 360 commercial satellites inhabit the geosynchronous level. Being able to create a platform with robotic crews would allow NASA to keep those satellites in orbit longer and cut down on the risk posed by dead satellites and other debris in the same orbit.

The scientists want to do more than just refueling. They envision robot arms that could repair ailing satellites and even create new orbiting devices

(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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