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DARPA: WATER = SATELLITE JUICE

"Orbiting spy satellites have an annoying habit of running out of fuel and burning up in the atmosphere," Defense Tech pal John Gartner writes in today's Wired News. "So Darpa is looking for a way to make them last longer and move better. The key might be water."Darpa's Water Rocket program "would develop a satellite that exploits a 'closed loop' regenerative fuel cell: Solar power electrolyzes water into hydrogen, then the hydrogen is converted into electricity and water."These days, most satellites are largely solar-powered. But they use liquid fuel to power the thrusters that adjust their position.Moving to a water-based system could therefore make the satellites more maneuverable. And that could "improve the satellite's coverage, change its arrival times to counter denial and deception and improve survivability, as well as extend a satellite's lifetime," according to Darpa spokesperson Jan Walker.

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