Possible NASA applications include: 1) Inspection of ISS external systems reducing requirement for costly and dangerous manned EVAs. 2) Inspection of heat shield on reentry vehicles to prevent disasters such as Columbia. Integrating SOUL into such vehicles for routine use prior to re-entry would greatly increase the crew safety; 3) Collect small samples from asteroid/comet surface without landing the larger mother ship/host. If Philae was on an umbilical line or if the harpoons were on an umbilical, the Rosetta mission would have been greater success; 4) Create large deployable space system such as large antennas/apertures by coupling multiple satellites using the umbilical line (e.g. rotating formation for stability or artificial gravity); 5) Enhance manned the EVA capability: a) The SOUL robot could carry lights, bring tools, spare consumables (e.g. air tank) to the EVA astronaut working on the ISS or any other future ship; b) The SOUL robot could provide real time video of EVA activity from vantage points unreachable by either other astronauts or conventional robotic arms; c) The SOUL robot could provide auxiliary heat management system or even water vapor capture system reducing weight and power requirements for the EVA suit; d) The SOUL-like umbilical line could carry power and fiber optics comm link reducing reliance on EVA suit batteries while the fiber optics can relay high resolution video from the EVA suit camera.
Many of the NASA and non-NASA applications overlap and some were listed above. Purely commercial applications are also numerous centering on the commercial GEO sat. Examples include: 1) Self-inspection leading to on-orbit servicing/repair of host spacecraft. This of particular interest to GEO Com sat owners/primes during deployment of appendages, anomaly diagnostic and aging assessment; 2) Inspection of other spacecraft with development proceeding to on-orbit servicing/repair and even refueling (when the umbilical contains a propellant transfer tube); 3) Autonomous operations enabling on-orbit assembly and repurposing as envisioned by DARPA's Phoenix Program; 4) Capture of large debris which could then be towed to disposal orbit by the larger host vehicle, Small SOUL mass decreases the danger of additional debris produced by inadvertent collisions due to SOUL low momentum; 5) Function as a long boom with sensors on the end, (e.g. Langmuir probes, magnetometers etc.) enabling better measurements via greater distance from the large host vehicle causing less disturbance to local plasma/environment; 6) Assist in space situational awareness by sensing RF, presence of effluent molecules some distance away from the host etc; 7) Calibrate RF/radar antennas by measuring near-field pattern by flying the SOUL vehicle with the appropriate sensors in front of the antenna/aperture.