Intelsat supports in-orbit servicing with a contract for Orbital ATK

by | Apr 13, 2016 | Satellites, Technology | 0 comments

While it has previously dabbled in spacecraft servicing technology including a deal that in the end came to nothing with MDA, the satellite operator Intelsat still wants to do it. Intelsat has just signed a contract with Orbital ATK to become a customer for its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) in-orbit satellite servicing mission to fly in 2019. Orbital ATK has set up a subsidiary called Space Logistics LLC to handle these operations. However the new Orbital ATK MEV does not really refuel the spacecraft concerned. Rather it docks with a spacecraft via its Apogee Kick Motor nozzle and surrounding adaptor ring, and thus becomes its new de facto attitude control system. This offers the satellite an life extension of up to five years.

Comment by David Todd:  This technology is more applicable to rescuing spacecraft stranded in the wrong orbit by their launch or Apogee Kick Motor failure rather than extending the life of already elderly satellites. Docking with the Apogee Kick Motor is a good idea… except that satellites will soon be without one as they increasingly turn to all electric thrusters for orbit raising.

 

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