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DARPA shows how ambitious satellite scavenger project could work

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Darpa Project Phoenix
Darpa Project Phoenix

DARPA is slowly making headway in its ambitious quest to harvest functioning parts from otherwise dead satellites. The agency today released a new video revealing some early lab work surrounding the Phoenix Program. In the clip, DARPA addresses one of the key challenges facing researchers: finding a reliable method of fastening antennas and other satellite pieces together in the middle of outer space. Two approaches to non-mechanical adhesion are currently undergoing testing. Work has also progressed on other, equally-crucial parts of DARPA's robots like the grabber mechanism and a touchscreen that will let human operators control the actual cutting process. The $180 million initiative is still a long way from being finalized, however; lab research is expected to continue into 2015 at the earliest. Keeping costs within reason will prove vital as DARPA continues its attempts to turn floating space junk into useful satellites once more. If the synth-heavy soundtrack in the below clip sounds familiar, that's because it's the exact same track DARPA used in a similar video back in 2011.