LOS ANGELES- It sounds like science fiction: Scavenging defunct communication satellites for their valuable parts and recycling them to build brand new ones for cheap.
It's the latest idea from the Pentagon's research wing known for funding blue-sky projects. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is spending $180 million to test technologies that could make this possible.
When satellites retire, certain parts - such as antennas and solar panels - often still work. There's currently no routine effort to salvage and reuse satellite parts once they're launched into space.
A key test will come in 2016 when DARPA launches a demonstration mission that seeks to breathe new life to an antenna from a yet-to-be-determined decommissioned satellite.
DARPA has identified about 140 retired satellites that it can choose from for its first test.