Press Release

Honeybee Robotics Selected for DARPA Phoenix Program for On-Orbit Satellite Servicing

By SpaceRef Editor
July 25, 2012
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Honeybee will develop multiple types of grippers and end-effectors to enable satellite rendezvous and docking

Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation today announced it has been selected to develop new telerobotic end effectors for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) Phoenix program. The Phoenix program is designed to develop and demonstrate technologies to harvest and re-use valuable components from retired, nonworking satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO), and demonstrate the ability to create new space systems at greatly reduced cost. Under the terms of the project’s first phase, Honeybee will develop and deliver two distinct types of end effector prototypes designed to enable a servicing satellite to dock with and manipulate communications satellites in GEO.

“Honeybee has a track record of developing innovative, rugged and reliable end-effectors designed to operate in unstructured environments,” said Jason Herman, Director of Robotics and Automation Technology at Honeybee Robotics. “The Phoenix program is an important step towards on-orbit satellite servicing, which has great potential to extend capabilities and satellite lifespan in an affordable way. We’re proud to support a program this significant to the Department of Defense and the space sector as a whole.”

The Phoenix mission aims to demonstrate globally persistent communication capability for the Department of Defense more cost-effectively, by robotically removing and re-using GEO-based space apertures and antennas from de-commissioned satellites in the graveyard or disposal orbit. The program plans to develop a new class of very small “satlets,” similar to nano satellites, which could be sent to the GEO region economically as a hosted payload on a commercial satellite launch. In orbit, the satlets would attach to the antenna of a non-functional cooperating satellite via a “tender” servicing satellite, essentially creating a new space system from GEO.

Honeybee has over 20 years of experience developing rugged and reliable end-effectors for the space and defense sectors. For more information on the company’s technology in this sector, visit Program images are available on the DARPA Phoenix web site,

John Abrashkin
Honeybee Robotics Spacecraft Mechanisms Corporation
460 W. 34th Street, New York, NY 10001
(646) 459-7810 (office)
(917) 715-9009 (mobile)

SpaceRef staff editor.