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Europe Cools to On-Orbit Servicing
Automated satellite servicing perfectly illustrates the dichotomy in the approaches of Europe and the U.S. to space research.
U.S. efforts, focused on the Orbital Express project, are led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa), with Boeing and Ball Aerospace as the main contractors. Geared to Defense Dept. requirements but with possible commercial spinoffs, Orbital Express aims to test autonomous component exchange, refueling and automatic rendezvous/docking techniques using chase and target satellites (AW&ST June 5, 2006, p. 47).