NASA and DARPA Building Robots to Sabotage Enemies in Space

Tuesday, 02 January 2018 - 11:26AM
Space
Earth
Technology
Tuesday, 02 January 2018 - 11:26AM
NASA and DARPA Building Robots to Sabotage Enemies in Space
Image credit: YouTube

Apart from an EMP airburst that fries iPhones and internet servers across the country, the worst thing that can happen to our tech-driven society is probably a bent antenna on a satellite. Why? Because it costs millions of dollars to launch satellites into orbit, and if anything goes wrong while they deploy we have almost no way to fix them. The same goes for satellites that run out of fuel or become damaged in orbit.

There's good news, however: NASA, the beloved space agency, and DARPA, the Department of Defense's crack team of mad scientists, are going to be collaborating on a new type of satellite that will be able to refuel, repair, and maintain the US' key satellites from orbit.

These satellites are called "service stations in orbit," but their purpose isn't totally benign—they may also be used to sabotage other countries' satellites in times of war.

According to Popular Mechanics:

"...Satellite attacks would likely be the first shots in a serious war between major powers, as each side attempts to blind the other. Service satellites could go after enemy satellites in wartime, using their repair abilities to pluck the solar arrays or antennas off an adversary's vital military communications satellite. A satellite that provides a new source of propulsion for an older one could also move an enemy satellite to danger, forcing it to crash back towards Earth in a fiery mess."

During wartime, hacked computers can be replaced, damaged aircraft can be repaired, and destroyed infrastructure can be rebuilt, but no one wants their satellites targeted.

The loss of even a handful of key pieces of space hardware could mean a country remains blind and vulnerable for months or years—even having a key satellite jammed for a few minutes can mean the difference between detecting a missile launch from North Korea and missing the window to intercept it.

It's not as paranoid as it might sound, either—the US military already has proof that China and Russia have been working on weapons meant to target US satellites.

Attacking satellites is still a grey area when it comes to warfare, but that may change very soon. On the other hand, if DARPA can make these new "service stations" look like astromech droids, we'll be one step closer to having an actual Star War.

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