Learn about NASA’s Restore-L robotic spacecraft at ESC Boston 2016

-April 01, 2016

I'm currently bouncing around with excitement because I get to tell you that Benjamin Reed, deputy program manager of the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is coming to give the Keynote presentation -- The Restore-L Servicing Mission -- at the Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) in Boston on Thursday 14 April, 2016.

Artist's concept of Restore-L (Source: NASA)

Ever since I was a young lad, I've loved anything to do with space. I remember tracking the progress of the early Apollo missions when they orbited the moon without landing, and watching with awe when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin finally put foot on the moon in 1969, while Michael Collins remained alone in the Command Module in lunar orbit (can you imagine how cut off he felt from the rest of us when he was on the far side of the moon?).

Also, as long as I can remember, I've loved science fiction. One of my favorite authors as a lad was Robert Heinlein. I particularly liked what are now known as the "Heinlein Juveniles," which were books aimed at the young adult market. The main examples of these are the twelve novels published by Scribner's between 1947 and 1958: Rocket Ship Galileo, Space Cadet, Red Planet, Farmer in the Sky, Between Planets, The Rolling Stones (a.k.a. Space Family Stone), Starman Jones, The Star Beast, Tunnel in the Sky, Time for the Stars, Citizen of the Galaxy, and Have Space Suit -- Will Travel.

I still have eleven of these sitting on the shelves here in my office. The twelfth -- Space Cadet -- is sitting on the desk in front of me as I pen these words because I was just reminding myself of the scene in which our hero, Matt Dodson, is describing to his family the process of inspecting and servicing satellites orbiting the Earth.

The thing is that, at the time that he wrote this book, Heinlein could only envisage satellite maintenance being performed by humans. Now we're looking at the possibility of self-guided robotic satellites orbiting the Earth providing extra fuel and tuning up other satellites.

All of which leads us to Restore-L, which is a robotic spacecraft equipped with the tools and technologies required to maintain other satellites and extend their lifespans, even if those satellites were not conceived and created in such a way as to facilitate being serviced on orbit.

This is the topic of Benjamin's keynote presentation. This keynote is open to all attendees -- including full conference passes and free expo-only passes -- so, if you haven't already done so, might I be so bold as to suggest that you register right now? I, for one, cannot wait to hear this presentation. Hopefully I'll see you there.

Also see:

Join over 2,000 technical professionals and embedded systems hardware, software, and firmware developers at ESC Boston April 13-14, 2016 and learn about the latest techniques and tips for reducing time, cost, and complexity in the embedded development process.

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