Lawmakers Call For Halt To DARPA Program: Robots Repairing Satellites
WASHINGTON: Three influential House lawmakers have asked DARPA in a Jan. 25 letter to review a robotic space repair program to see if it violates the National Space Policy by competing with private-sector efforts and to put the program on hold until the review is complete. The National Space Policy requires “that the government not build or buy systems that “preclude, discourage or compete” with commercial systems. Orbital ATK is building a system it believes competes directly with the DARPA initiative, known as Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites.
It’s an intriguing program. DARPA’s goal is to develop robotic systems that can fix damaged satellites 22,000 miles up. In the words of the program web page, it would be designed to “make house calls in space.”
But Rep. Jim Bridenstine, one of the most active lawmakers on space issues today (and possibly the next head of NASA); Rep. Barbara Comstock, chair of the House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee on research and technology; and Rep. Rob Bishop, chair of the House Natural Resources Committee, signed a letter today asking Acting DARPA Director Steven Walker to review RSGS to ensure it complies with the National Space Policy’s requirement that the government not build or buy systems that “preclude, discourage or compete” with commercial systems.
The rub may be that Orbital-ATK has invested $100 million in such a system, the Orbital Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV). In April last year, Orbital announced that the commercial satellite giant Intelsat would buy the first of the system.
The launch of the first MEV is slated for late 2018 with in-orbit testing and demonstration to be performed with an Intelsat satellite. Testing should be done by early 2019, the Intelsat announcement said. “MEV-1 will then relocate to the Intelsat satellite scheduled for the mission extension service, which is planned for a five-year period. Intelsat will also have the option to service multiple satellites using the same MEV,” the announcement says.
MEV is the product of a wholly-owned subsidiary of Orbital ATK known as Space Logistics, LLC.
Orbital released this statement when they heard I was writing this: “Orbital ATK has strong concerns regarding DARPA’s program approach to its new Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellite (RSGS) program, which both distorts the emerging commercial market for in-space satellite servicing and violates long-standing principles of the National Space Policy. DARPA’s RSGS program will subsidize a single company with several hundred million dollars’ worth of space hardware and launch service, courtesy of the U.S. taxpayer, to directly compete with commercial satellite servicing systems that Orbital ATK and other companies are developing with their own private capital. Even worse, we estimate that DARPA will provide about 75% of the program funding but retain only about 10% of its capability, a highly questionable and inefficient use of public funds.”
The company also says, as one would expect, that, “DARPA’s approach also violates both the letter and the spirit of the U.S. National Space Policy.”
The DARPA program has another interesting wrinkle. The folks who invented the Internet want to create a Consortium For Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS), which would serve as “a permanent, self-sustaining ‘one-stop shop’ where industry can collaborate and engage with the U.S. Government about on-orbit servicing, as well as drive the creation of the standards that future servicing providers will follow,” according to Todd Master, the DARPA program manager. “These standards would integrate data, expertise, and experience from both government and industry while protecting commercial participants’ financial and strategic interests, and provide investors, insurers, potential customers, and other stakeholders with the confidence to pursue and engage in this promising new sector.” Once up and running, DARPA plans to “transfer” CONFERS to industry before 2021, when it expects to demonstrate RSGS capabilities in space.
As a longtime space reporter, and one who bets President Donald Trump’s administration will favor industry over government in most showdowns, look for DARPA to lose this one — unless there are factors of which I’m ignorant.
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The main goals of the 2045 Initiative: the creation and realization of a new strategy for the development of humanity which meets global civilization challenges; the creation of optimale conditions promoting the spiritual enlightenment of humanity; and the realization of a new futuristic reality based on 5 principles: high spirituality, high culture, high ethics, high science and high technologies.
The main science mega-project of the 2045 Initiative aims to create technologies enabling the transfer of a individual’s personality to a more advanced non-biological carrier, and extending life, including to the point of immortality. We devote particular attention to enabling the fullest possible dialogue between the world’s major spiritual traditions, science and society.
A large-scale transformation of humanity, comparable to some of the major spiritual and sci-tech revolutions in history, will require a new strategy. We believe this to be necessary to overcome existing crises, which threaten our planetary habitat and the continued existence of humanity as a species. With the 2045 Initiative, we hope to realize a new strategy for humanity's development, and in so doing, create a more productive, fulfilling, and satisfying future.
The "2045" team is working towards creating an international research center where leading scientists will be engaged in research and development in the fields of anthropomorphic robotics, living systems modeling and brain and consciousness modeling with the goal of transferring one’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier and achieving cybernetic immortality.
An annual congress "The Global Future 2045" is organized by the Initiative to give platform for discussing mankind's evolutionary strategy based on technologies of cybernetic immortality as well as the possible impact of such technologies on global society, politics and economies of the future.
Future prospects of "2045" Initiative for society
The emergence and widespread use of affordable android "avatars" controlled by a "brain-computer" interface. Coupled with related technologies “avatars’ will give people a number of new features: ability to work in dangerous environments, perform rescue operations, travel in extreme situations etc.
Avatar components will be used in medicine for the rehabilitation of fully or partially disabled patients giving them prosthetic limbs or recover lost senses.
Creation of an autonomous life-support system for the human brain linked to a robot, ‘avatar’, will save people whose body is completely worn out or irreversibly damaged. Any patient with an intact brain will be able to return to a fully functioning bodily life. Such technologies will greatly enlarge the possibility of hybrid bio-electronic devices, thus creating a new IT revolution and will make all kinds of superimpositions of electronic and biological systems possible.
Creation of a computer model of the brain and human consciousness with the subsequent development of means to transfer individual consciousness onto an artificial carrier. This development will profoundly change the world, it will not only give everyone the possibility of cybernetic immortality but will also create a friendly artificial intelligence, expand human capabilities and provide opportunities for ordinary people to restore or modify their own brain multiple times. The final result at this stage can be a real revolution in the understanding of human nature that will completely change the human and technical prospects for humanity.
This is the time when substance-independent minds will receive new bodies with capacities far exceeding those of ordinary humans. A new era for humanity will arrive! Changes will occur in all spheres of human activity – energy generation, transportation, politics, medicine, psychology, sciences, and so on.
Today it is hard to imagine a future when bodies consisting of nanorobots will become affordable and capable of taking any form. It is also hard to imagine body holograms featuring controlled matter. One thing is clear however: humanity, for the first time in its history, will make a fully managed evolutionary transition and eventually become a new species. Moreover, prerequisites for a large-scale expansion into outer space will be created as well.
Key elements of the project in the future
• International social movement
• social network immortal.me
• charitable foundation "Global Future 2045" (Foundation 2045)
• scientific research centre "Immortality"
• business incubator
• University of "Immortality"
• annual award for contribution to the realization of the project of "Immortality”.