FYI: Science Policy News
FYI
/
Article

NASA Cancels Big-Budget Robotic Servicing Demonstration

MAR 05, 2024
The mission had already received $1.5 billion but faced continued cost, schedule, and technical challenges.
Will Thomas
Spencer R. Weart Director of Research in History, Policy, and Culture
The International Space Station pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour on Nov. 8, 2021.

Illustration of OSAM-1, bottom, grappling Landsat 7.

(NASA)

NASA announced on March 1 that it is terminating its On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission, which was supposed to have refueled Landsat 7, demonstrating capabilities for robotically servicing satellites not designed to be serviced.

The mission, formerly called RESTORE-L, also incorporated a robotic arm called Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER) that would have assembled a 3-meter communications antenna and a 10-meter beam. Congress has strongly supported OSAM-1, appropriating about $1.5 billion to date and often exceeding the amounts annually requested for it.

However, the project’s cost and schedule estimates have been unstable, with the price tag currently pegged at more than $2 billion. NASA states its termination decision is linked to “continued technical, cost, and schedule challenges, and a broader community evolution away from refueling unprepared spacecraft, which has led to a lack of a committed partner.”

Last year, NASA’s Office of Inspector General highlighted poor performance by the contractor Maxar as a key cause of the project’s ongoing difficulties.

NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland has been developing OSAM-1 and the agency states it is “reviewing how to mitigate the impact of the cancellation” on the center’s workforce.

This news brief originally appeared in FYI’s newsletter for the week of March 4.

Related Topics
More from FYI
FYI
/
Article
The Department of Energy is seeking to accelerate the progress of science with tailored AI models.
FYI
/
Article
Darío Gil is the first working industry executive to hold the position in more than 30 years.
FYI
/
Article
The grants aim to lay the groundwork for a telescope focused on searching for life outside the solar system.
FYI
/
Article
Senators argue a restructuring last year harmed their states’ EPSCoR offices despite NSF providing more money overall to eligible states.

Related Organizations