Cash: The Embodiment of Liberty



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Cash: The Embodiment of Liberty

Grandma stuffing money under the mattress isn't the only one living outside the banking system.

As many as 28 million people in the United States are forgoing traditional financial institutions because of mistrust, cultural and language barriers or a belief that by the time all the bills are paid there will be nothing left for an account.

That can be expensive and risky. People can run up big fees to cash checks, pay bills and meet their other financial needs. Walking around with large amounts of cash can make them a target for thieves.

The bankless are estimated to earn hundreds of billions of dollars a year in income. Seeing a business opportunity, banks are trying to draw in these potential customers. So, too, are check-cashing businesses and retailers, including Wal-Mart.

Many people, however, still resist, preferring to remain in the financial shadows.

They tend to be minority — Hispanic or blacks especially — as well as low income and young.

According to the Federal Reserve, about one in 12 families — 8.7 percent — does not have a bank account.

The number is higher for the poorest — nearly a quarter of families earning less than $18,900, the Fed said, citing 2004 data.

For some, like Rosa Alvarez, the financial choices can be bewildering.

"I don't understand about this bank stuff," says Alvarez, 54, who lives in Texas. A nagging fear that she might make a mistake "if I don't keep up with it right or something" keeps her from opening an account. She had one once, briefly. But she had trouble keeping track of her balance. She thinks that when the account closed, she owed the bank $12.

Carlos Maren, 25, a cook, is afraid that if he opens a bank account in the U.S., he will get hit with fees for not keeping in enough money or for taking out more money than he has.

"My uncle sometimes says that it's expensive ... because if you don't have money in the account, (the bank) is going to be charging you," Maren says.

Leonel Mendoza, 32, a hospital worker, is not comfortable with banks in this country.

Both he and Maren do their financial transactions at a check-cashing outlet in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, D.C. They say it is convenient and they like knowing upfront what they will be charged to cash their paychecks, buy money orders, and, in Maren's case, wire money to his native Mexico. He has a bank account there.

"It's not real expensive," Maren says.

Yet those charges can add up.

A Consumer Federation of America survey of check-cashing outlets, found that on average it cost $24.45 to cash a $1,002 Social Security check last year. A blue-collar worker pays an average $19.66 every week to cash a $478.41 handwritten paper check.

Having a bank account can be expensive, too, if it is not managed wisely.

Failure to keep track of an account balance can incur a penalty of $20 to $35 each time a check is bounced or an account is overdrawn.

"It can be costly to be outside the banking system. The poor pay more," says John Caskey, economics professor at Swarthmore College.

"On the other hand, if all you did is take that low-income person, living paycheck to paycheck and moved them into the banking system and they are bouncing checks and incurring fees, you haven't done much and you may not have done them a favor," Caskey says.

Although there is no federal requirement for banks to offer low-cost, no-frill accounts, some do.

"Some have very low dollar accounts. Some have accounts that have to maintain a minimum balance," says James Ballentine, director of community and economic development at the American Bankers Association.

Ballentine's advice: "Do some shopping around."

The share of families without bank accounts decreased gradually from 1989 to 2001, then leveled off, the Fed said.

Banks have an economic interest in reeling in people outside the banking system — 10 million to 28 million individuals who earn $510 billion a year — and turn them into customers who eventually may need loans to buy homes, cars and other items.

Banks are working through community groups to ease fears, build trust and to educate people about financial options. It is a challenge that can take years, bank officials say. Moreover, what may work in Houston does not necessarily prove fruitful in Fresno, Calif.

Adding to the challenge, the bankless are slowly spreading out. Hispanics and immigrants have moved beyond traditional ports of entry, such as big cities on the coasts and in border states; they are settling in Tennessee, North Carolina and Indiana. In the same way, people without bank accounts have move around.

The FDIC has spearheaded a project to help bring the bankless into the financial mainstream. Financial institutions, community groups and others are teaming up in nine markets — including parts of Alabama, Chicago, Los Angeles and Wilmington, Del. — to provide services including affordable small loans, check cashing, savings and financial education and for wiring money outside the U.S.

Nationwide, there are fewer banks in poor neighborhoods versus wealthy ones but the difference is small, according to the Federal Reserve.

In some neighborhoods, however, there are no banks conveniently located. Federal banking regulators just weeks ago identified 3,500 middle-income neighborhoods in rural areas — from parts of Clarke, Ala., to parts of Washakie, Wyo. — that they consider to be underserved by financial institutions.

Federal Reserve research found that the most common reason families gave for not having checking accounts was that they did not write enough checks to make it worthwhile. Many people said they did not like dealing with banks.

Some — regulators could not provide a percentage — are in the country illegally. Without some proof of identification such as a driver's license or a passport, they cannot set up a bank account.

Check cashers and other outlets give them a financial lifeline.

"You purchase the transactions you need, when you need them. Prices are posted. There are no surprises," says Joseph Coleman, president of Rite Check Cashing Inc., which operates stores in New York City's Harlem neighborhood and the borough of the Bronx.

New York is among the roughly two dozen states plus the District of Columbia that regulate check-cashing fees.

"We are like financial oxygen. People in our communities rely on us," says Coleman, who once worked for Citibank. He hires people who speak languages in addition to English, easing communications with the customer.

Is the average 2 percent fee that customers pay for cashing a paycheck too high?

I would say no," says Cynthia Vega, spokeswoman for the Financial Service Centers of America, whose members include check cashers. Customers pay for the convenience of having quick access to their cash, she says.

Over the years, technological innovations have spurred a range of products for people without bank accounts.

Some employers, not wanting to deal with the expense of paper checks, load employees' paychecks onto electronic cards that can be swiped at the supermarket, restaurant and other places or used to pay bills. These cards have federal protections, such as liability limits for unauthorized use, says Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection at the Consumer Federation of America.

Check-cashing outlets also sell electronic cards on which money from paychecks or a tax refund can be loaded. These cards on average cost $10.86, the federation says. Fox says some of these cards can carry usage fees and may not have the same protections by bank-issued debit or ATM cards.

Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, recently announced it will sell for $8.94 each a prepaid Visa debit card. This step is aimed partly at shoppers who do not have bank accounts. Those cards have protections against theft and loss.

Alvarez, a Texas cake decorator, does not bother with any of these options. She cashes her check for free at the supermarket where she works and hides her cash in books at home.

"When I need money for gas, I get a little bit out," she says. "When I pitch in for groceries, I get it out. But sometimes I'm scared the house can burn down. My money will be burned with it," she says. Or, there could be a break-in, she worries.

Some of the potential perils for the bankless include theft, forgetting where you stashed your cash or losing your money.

"If you have most of your money in a bank. You have protection. If you are carrying it all in cash, it is easy to lose, easy to be stolen and easy to spend," Fox says

In Prince William County, Va., there were 351 robberies last year and more than 40 percent involved Hispanic victims — many of whom were new to the country — who had large amounts of cash on them, says Police Chief Charlie Deane. Many of the robberies occurred on paydays — Thursday or Fridays.

"The criminal element is aware that many of these people do not put their money in a bank," Deane says. "Many of these individuals are living in conditions where they have to share common space, so they often don't have ways of securing their cash where they live. So therefore they carry the cash with them," he says.

The robbers, when caught, have told police they targeted the victims because "they knew they were carrying cash," he said.

There also is a long-term impact for those who opt to do without banks.

"The ability to sock away money for a rainy day and to cover emergency costs are enhanced if somebody is using a mainstream financial institution and begins to get on a pattern of regular savings," says Barry Wides, deputy comptroller of community affairs at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.
The manager of one of Britain’s biggest bond funds has urged investors to keep cash under the mattress.

Ian Spreadbury, who invests more than £4bn of investors’ money across a handful of bond funds for Fidelity, including the flagship Moneybuilder Income fund, is concerned that a “systemic event” could rock markets, possibly similar in magnitude to the financial crisis of 2008, which began in Britain with a run on Northern Rock.

“Systemic risk is in the system and as an investor you have to be aware of that,” he told Telegraph Money.

The best strategy to deal with this, he said, was for investors to spread their money widely into different assets, including gold and silver, as well as cash in savings accounts. But he went further, suggesting it was wise to hold some “physical cash,” an unusual suggestion from a mainstream fund manager.

His concern is that global debt – particularly mortgage debt – has been pumped up to record levels, made possible by exceptionally low interest rates that could soon end, and he is unsure how well banks could cope with the shocks that may await.

Now, there are some cautions you should be aware of.


Cash is contraband and appears under the law as probable cause. If you accumulate too much cash, like say $50-100 thousand, your cash is committing a crime. Not, per se, but your cash is a criminal and can be arrested under a law that has been in place since 2001 called Civil Forfeiture.
If cash is caught outside a bank, it will be confiscated, and you will never see it again do protect it like your life depended on it. Hide it well and in small increments under $5,000. Tell no one you have cash, and this especially includes family members. Cash and gold are the most corrupting things on Earth.
There are numerous things you cannot do with cash.


  • Buying a home or making a down payment on a home greater than $9,999. No bank or mortgage company will accept cash in amounts greater than this.

  • Rent a car. You can’t even buy a car with cash more than $9,999 without the FBI coming to visit you. No, you cannot make four payments of $2,500 either. That is called structuring.

  • Deposit it into a bank. You will find yourself in the same position as the drug dealer. You have to launder your own money back into the bank. Chances are, you will lose up to 20% in fees to get it back into the bank. It does not matter if you have ATM withdrawal receipts, check cashing receipts, or even a bill of sale. Cash deposits into the bank will be seized by State and Federal IRS agencies for fear you have not paid taxes on that money. Even after proving you paid taxes on the money, you will not get your money back. Many a restaurant, flea market merchant, and small market has had their money seized by these thugs and spent large amounts of money jumping through hoops to get a portion of it back.

  • You cannot make car payments, credit card payments, or pay utility bills in cash in many cities. If you have any debt at all, you should not have cash stored anywhere. Concentrate on getting out of debt.

  • You cannot shop online, unless you travel to the location and pay in person. 90% of commerce is done cashless now.

Cash is the embodiment of liberty. You can travel, buy food, clothes, and any sort of entertainment you wish. All of your purchases are anonymous, and you cannot be followed or profiled if you buy with cash. You also cannot be electronically robbed. There is no worry of identity theft, or the bank making a mistake with your account, or the IRS seizing all your money or anyone using your money to make investments while you are not using it.


I do think it is very risky to leave your money in the bank, especially if the account is backed by a money market to lower fees. Any money left in such an account, either checking or savings, is not insured by the FDIC. In order to get that insurance, you have to pay for it in monthly fees. Right now, your savings account will be fully depleted by these fees over time, if you do not convert those savings to a CD. If you do convert this to a CD, you cannot touch it without a penalty during the contract period.
So what do you do? Put your money into a Credit Union. The large banks are convenient, sure. You don’t pay that pesky $2.00 every time you use the ATM. If your bank is everywhere in every State. But, the large banks are the ones holding onto the hot potato derivatives that will come crashing down very soon. When that happens, your money is gone forever. Credit Unions are owned by the depositors in that institution, and will not fail when the large banks go down.
Jade Helm: Homeland Eradication of Local Militia

The exercise will involve U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) with other U.S Armed Forces units in multiple states, including Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Colorado.[2] The cities in Texas include Bastrop/Smithville, Big Spring, Caddo Lake, Caldwell, Christoval, College Station, Dell City, Eldorado, Goliad, Junction, Leakey, Menard, Mountain Home, San Angelo, San Antonio and Victoria.[3]

The USASOC claimed "the size and scope of Jade Helm sets this one apart" from previous training exercises,[4] such as Derna Bridge or Robin Sage.[2] Some parts of the operational details have been disclosed, including that there will be 1,200 troops participating, and according to CNN, "mainly Army Green Berets, but also a small group of Navy SEALS and Air Force special operations troops as well as conventional Army infantry."[5] Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria, at an information session for residents in Bastrop, Texas, said the realistic military training helps soldiers adapt to unfamiliar terrain. In that location, sixty soldiers would take part, including the presence of two Humvee vehicles and a "water buffalo" water tank. Private land offered by residents would be used for the exercise, though he noted they would not be paid for the land or receive a tax break of any kind.[6] Lastoria also claimed $150,000 in revenue would be brought to the area because of food, fuel, and shopping.

Theories

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/07/jade_helm_15.jpeg/320px-jade_helm_15.jpeg

U.S. Army Special Operations Command map,[2] depicting the US military plans during the Jade Helm 15 exercise

The conspiracy theories seem to emanate from the map shown here from the U.S. Army Special Operations Command, that divides the region into four colors, with two "hostile" states, two "permissive" states, two states leaning one way or the other, and California divided.[7]

According to the Hartford Courant‍  '​s Jim Shea, the conspiracy theories about Jade Helm 15 include: a "psychological operation aimed at getting people used to seeing military forces on the streets" so they do not realize when an invasion actually takes place; an international operation aimed to seize people's guns; recently closed Wal-Marts used by the military to "stockpile supplies for Chinese troops who will be arriving to disarm Americans"; and a military plan to "round up political dissidents" and "remove key political figures" who may be against the imposition of martial law.[8]



Reactions

The Austin American-Statesman newspaper noted that after plans and maps of the exercise were made public, there was an "explosion of outrage on social media after the release of the map, which labeled Texas, Utah and the southern tip of California as 'hostile.'"[9] There was also speculation that shuttered Walmart stores would be used for "guerrilla-warfare staging areas and FEMA processing camps",[10] though this theory was "debunked" by the website Snopes, which specializes in scrutinizing urban legends and Internet rumors.[11]

A survey of registered Republicans by Public Policy Polling in May 2015,[12] found that 32% thought that "the Government is trying to take over Texas", and that half of all Tea Party supporters are concerned with an imminent Texas invasion.[13]

Greg Capers, sheriff of San Jacinto County, published a letter in the Cleveland Advocate, in response to numerous phone calls from citizens, in which he described "alternative news sources" that were spreading inaccurate information about the exercise, and encouraged citizens to "utilize legitimate mainstream news sources" for those interested in accurate information.[14]



Politicians

On April 28, Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor the operation, declaring, "During the training operation, it is important that Texans know their safety, constitutional rights, private property right and civil liberties will not be infringed."[9][15]

On May 2, 2015, Republican presidential candidate and Texas senator Ted Cruz said he had "reached out to The Pentagon to inquire about this exercise." In comments to Bloomberg News at the South Carolina Republican Party's annual convention, he said,

We are assured it is a military training exercise. I have no reason to doubt those assurances, but I understand the reason for concern and uncertainty, because when the federal government has not demonstrated itself to be trustworthy in this administration, the natural consequence is that many citizens don't trust what it is saying.[16][17]

On May 5, 2015, U.S. Representative Louie Gohmert, Republican from the 1st District of Texas, and Vice Chair of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, voiced his concern in a statement, saying his "office has been inundated with calls referring to the Jade Helm 15 military exercise". with concerns about the U.S. Army is preparing for "modern-day martial law". He noted a political consideration saying, "I was rather appalled that the hostile areas amazingly have a Republican majority, 'cling to their guns and religion,' and believe in the sanctity of the United States Constitution", and asserted that "the map of the exercise needs to change, the names on the map need to change, and the tone of the exercise needs to be completely revamped so the federal government is not intentionally practicing war against its own states."[17][18][19]

On May 7, 2015, Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic Governor of Virginia, called Abbott's mobilizing of the Texas State Guard in response to the training exercise "one of the dumbest things I have ever heard".[20]

Michele Hickford, the editor-in-chief of Allen West's website, discussed the timing of the Obama administration's order to ban some military-grade equipment from local law enforcement agencies in the context of the Jade Helm 15 exercise, as a plan to "disarm" the police and implement a "Federalization" of the police.[21]

Media

Radio host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones began spreading the conspiracy theory on March 19, 2015, by saying on his radio program and on his website that the federal government was preparing to invade Texas.[22] "They're going to practice breaking into things and stuff. This is going to be hellish," Jones said. "Now this is just a cover for deploying the military on the streets... This is an invasion ... in preparation for the financial collapse and maybe even Obama not leaving office."[22]

On March 27, 2015 Jones had a post that referenced Jade Helm with the headline, "Beyond Denial: Preparations for Martial Law in America."[23] On April 28, he warned about the "U.S. military positioning itself to take over the states and declare martial law,"[24] but on May 4 clarified his stance, blaming "mainstream media" for misinterpreting his comments, declaring, "Jade Helm 15 is NOT A Martial Law Takeover."[25] In a video posted that day, he responded to the question, "Is it true martial law is coming?" Jones said, "No, it's incremental. They're not going to take over this summer. Probably. We can never say completely. But that it's part of acclimating and conditioning."

In reaction to the sentiment that the military exercises might in fact be movement against American citizens, Dallas Morning News columnist Jacquielynn Floyd wrote a column titled, "Abbott should counter, not cater to, Texans' crazy Jade Helm fears," noting that Abbott's "response to this nut-studded fruitcake of fear was unfortunate."[26] On April 29, White House press secretary Josh Earnest addressed the concerns of critics in the regular press briefing, saying, "I have no idea what he's thinking," regarding Abbott's letter to the Texas Guard. "In no way will the constitutional rights or civil liberties of any American citizen be infringed upon while this exercise is being conducted."[27][28]

On May 4, actor Chuck Norris voiced skepticism about Jade Helm exercises in his column for conservative web site WorldNetDaily.[29][30] He supported Governor Abbott in his letter to the Texas State Guard, and implied a link to Islamic terrorism, saying,

Whatever Jade Helm 15 actually is, I think it is more than coincidental that the FBI director just confessed in February that the presence of ISIS can be felt in all 50 states of the U.S. and that the Pentagon is suddenly running its biggest military training exercise with every branch of the military across seven Southwestern states.

PSA from AARP

Riots nationwide have prompted local governments to declare martial law.

 

The President is asking that citizens find safety and remain calm.



 

Authorities are working to contain the outbreak.

The narrator of the PrisonPlanetLive video questioned how the content made it into an otherwise nondescript AARP spot and speculated upon the possible ulterior motives of such an unusual creative choice:

It has no place whatsoever within the context of the ad.

 

Think about this — this had to be specifically created by the company to appear in this PSA. They couldn’t use an actual segment from a tv news broadcast — because they would be concerned about copyright and because no such broadcast exists about the President declaring martial law in America after an outbreak.



 

So they deliberately put this in.

 

And it’s not going to be heard consciously, but it may be picked up subliminally by the viewer.



The article concluded that “the ad was approved and disseminated by The Ad Council, an organization that essentially now serves as a direct propganda [sic] arm of the White House.” (That claim was neither elaborated upon nor qualified.)

At the time of the concurrent appearances of the InfoWars article and the YouTube clip, two current events made the mysterious ad particularly compelling. One was ongoing civil unrest in Baltimore (due to the death of resident Freddie Gray in police custody) that intensified interest in the frequency and overall significance of riots. The second was an entirely separate set of conspiracy theories about a military exercise known as Jade Helm (and its rumored connection to the seemingly-sudden closures of several Walmart stores due to “plumbing problems“). Those conspiracy rumors had circulated for weeks prior to the Baltimore unrest and had exacerbated fears that the imposition of martial law in the United States was imminent. Concerns about Jade Helm grew so widespread in Texas that Gov. Greg Abbott issued a public statement on 1 May 2015 pledging to monitor the exercise.

To recap, rumors about Jade Helm began circulating in earnest in March 2015. In late April, Baltimore was temporarily seized by demonstrations and riots following Gray’s death. And on 27 April 2015, InfoWars reported upon an AARP commercial that addressed riots and martial law, a “subliminal message” meant to normalize what could be a looming government crackdown on civil liberties.

However, one aspect of this timeline is significant: While InfoWars discovered the AARP “martial law ad” around 27 April 2015, the clip had been released far earlier. In fact, it was posted to YouTube on 10 November 2014. That date is significant, because a separate outbreak of civil unrest was taking place in Ferguson, Missouri, in November 2014. That spate of demonstrations, protests, and rioting began on or around 24 November 2014. (Although smaller gatherings had occurred from August 2014 onward, Ferguson did not emerge as a flashpoint for civil rights protesting until 24 November 2014, two weeks after the AARP advertisement appeared on YouTube, and well before any Jade Helm rumors were circulating.)

On 30 April 2015, the Ad Council replied to a Facebook user’s question about the advertisement. The group linked to a blog post titled “Note to Our Concerned Community Members” which explained that the ad “was not intended to provide any additional messaging”:

We appreciate those of you who have taken the time to voice your concerns about our Caregivers Assistance PSA and concerns about the background audio file. Our pro bono ad agency who created this video, used a pre-existing, fictional vintage audio file as ambient background noise to invoke an earlier era; it was not intended to provide any additional messaging or for any additional purpose.

 

We apologize for any confusion surrounding the video and hope that the audio won’t distract from the social good that has and continues to be accomplished through this Ad Council campaign.



While it’s true the AARP commercial excerpt is bizarre and somewhat dark, it’s far likelier that its creators added the narrative background effects for atmospheric purposes rather than to serve some unspecified agenda to normalize the concept of martial law. Moreover, the events to which many viewers have alluded as context for the ad’s subliminal content took place well after its release. It isn’t clear why no one picked up on the ambient background speaking prior to the seemingly-related events in March and April of 2015; but one reason could be that absent current unrest and martial law rumors, the AARP commercial’s unusual audio features appeared far less menacing.

On 21 March 2015, the military news source Stars and Stripes published an article titled “Army Special Operations Command pushes back against alarmist claims about upcoming exercise.” That news outlet discussed the rumors with an Army spokesperson, who provided some clarification about the referenced exercise and the Internet rumors it spawned.

United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) spokesman and Army Lt. Col. Mark Lastoria said the Jade Helm exercise is scheduled to take place during the summer of 2015 at locations in Texas, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Colorado, California and Nevada. Lastoria explained that rumors involving martial law and FEMA camps resulted from folks reading about the exercise outside of the context of standard military training procedures:

“That notion was proposed by a few individuals who are unfamiliar with how and why USASOC conducts training exercises,” he said in an email. “This exercise is routine training to maintain a high level of readiness for Army Special Operations Forces because they must be ready to support potential missions anywhere in the world on a moment’s notice.”


He said the only thing unique about this particular exercise, which is slated to take place between July 15 and Sept. 15, is “the use of new challenging terrain” which was chosen because it is similar to conditions special operations forces operate in overseas.

Lastoria added that concerns were heightened due to the rumored involvement of local law enforcement agencies but noted that such interagency collaboration was necessary as operations were planned for areas “outside of military bases where civilian agencies have jurisdiction.” He also observed that his office had been receiving a lot of phone calls from people who had heard about the exercise and were concerned about “the nature of the training objectives.”

In April 2015, rumors regarding Jade Helm and FEMA camps were linked to the abrupt closure of several WalMart outlets in the U.S. due to reported plumbing issues.


Orbiting Rest Stops on the Way

More than 1,100 satellites are orbiting the Earth right now transmitting TV shows and phone calls, collecting rainforest data and spying on missile bases around the planet. Most are expensive, costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to build, launch and operate.

Now NASA wants to build a satellite service station that can gas up and repair aging birds, giving them a few years more life before they fall into the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate.

 

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satellite fueling station in action

http://assets.pinterest.com/images/pinext.pngArtist's impression of the satellite fueling station in action.
Credit: NASA

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More than 1,100 satellites are orbiting the Earth right now transmitting TV shows and phone calls, collecting rainforest data and spying on missile bases around the planet. Most are expensive, costing tens or hundreds of millions of dollars to build, launch and operate.

Now NASA wants to build a satellite service station that can gas up and repair aging birds, giving them a few years more life before they fall into the Earth's atmosphere and disintegrate.



5 Space Robots Rescued From Dying Missions

"Is there a way working with humans and robots together to extend the useful life of satellites, by fixing them and by not allowing fuel to spill out, but give it more propellant, close it up and send it on its way?," said Benjamin Reed, deputy director of the Satellite Servicing Program Office at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. "Yes, We have the technologies to be able to do it."

NASA astronauts have been practicing during two Robotic Refueling Missions on the International Space Station in 2011 and 2014, while engineers on the ground at Goddard have been developing new kinds of fuel nozzles, wire-cutters, drills and other robotic tools.

They also built a shiny, gold-foil-covered, 20-foot tall mockup of the Landsat-7 satellite in order to practice docking maneuvers necessary for fueling up in space.

Other technologies being developed include Raven, a laser-guided sensor that gives precise orbital trajectory of approaching objects. That will be key to any kind of in-orbit docking of two relatively small satellites that have to connect a fuel nozzle that can be just an inch or two wide.

Reed sees a future where a NASA service vehicle hopscotches around low-Earth orbit, docking with satellites that need gas or a tune-up. Additional technologies for in-orbit refueling will also be used in parallel with the upcoming Asteroid Redirect Mission, in which NASA hopes to put a lander on an object, pick up a big boulder, and then bring the rock back to Earth. That mission is funded and scheduled to lift off in December 2020.

But to get a satellite repair vehicle, the commercial satellite industry also has to get on board.

"Yes, industry is interested," said Jean-Luc Froeliger, vice president of satellite engineering and operations at Intelsat. "We have been for many years."

If you’re thinking of launching a Kick Starter campaign to get your satellite service station up and going, consider this. One industry official said that legal issues also have to be solved before NASA or anyone else could launch a repair/refueling vehicle. What if the docking goes awry and the satellite gets dinged up, or knocked into a neighbor's orbit?

Froelinger believes that existing agreements are in place between various satellite providers and operators, as long as NASA or any other firm has some kind of insurance policy.




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