Last year, Darpa launched a program, Phoenix, to harvest satellite parts. Now, the agency’s convening with researchers and already looking for a prime sat candidate to pick apart. Illustration: Darpa

The Pentagon’s intergalactic black-magic plot is getting ready to raise the dead.

Dead satellites, that is. Last year, Darpa, the military’s blue-sky research agency, kicked off a program designed to harvest parts from unused communications satellites still orbiting the Earth, and then turn those bits and pieces — antennas in particular — into an array that operates as a low-cost “communications farm” for troops on the ground.

Now that program, called Phoenix, is entering a new phase. First, Darpa last week issued a bid to commercial satellite owners, asking for “a candidate satellite” that’ll act as a space-based guinea pig for initial evaluations of the technology requisite for the initiative. And today, the agency hosted a conference on “sustainable satellite servicing” — attended by academics, private companies and military experts — to discuss everything from the program’s regulatory challenges to more technical “operational considerations” necessary to revive dead satellites.

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