Eco-consciousness is everywhere these days, and with its new Phoenix Project, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is showing that these ideals aren't just for the Earth's surface anymore.
The Phoenix Project is essentially a recycling program for satellites already in orbit. Many decommissioned or damaged satellites circling the Earth as you read this have fully functioning parts, like antenna arrays and solar panels, that can be salvaged. The tricky scientific part comes from syncing orbit with the salvaging satellite and the dead satellite.
DARPA believes that the robotic mechanic system will help lessen not only costs for future satellite programs, but also help reduce the amount of space junk and debris that is currently littering the Earth's orbit. DARPA has also uploaded a video showing how exactly the Phoenix Project would work in practice through simulations.
DARPA Shares Details on Phoenix Project to Scavenge Parts from Orbit
Andrew Sztein — January 24, 2013 — Tech
References: darpa.mil & arstechnica