This article was originally published in SpaceNews magazine on June 4, 2018. SpaceLogistics, a subsidiary of
Orbital ATK, plans to provide customers with a wide range of products and services, starting with its Mission Expansion Vehicle (MEV) and gradually developing. to the assembly, maintenance and transportation from Earth to the Moon of orbital spacecraft. Jim Armor,
orbit ATK vice president of personnel, called MEV the “first step” toward satellite services. Joseph Anderson, vice president of business development and operations for SpaceLogistics, said
SpaceLogistics is taking a “keep it simple” approach for in-orbit services. “Our clients are very risk averse. What they need are small incremental steps of risk and technology. ”
SpaceLogistics’ MEV is based on Orbital ATK’s GEOStar satellite bus and is designed to autonomously dock with any spacecraft equipped with a liquid apogee engine. The standard and launch ring and take over its Armour Space Technology held in Pasadena, California in late May. It was stated at the expo that it would guide, navigate and control to accurately locate and maintain the station.
Intelsat is the world’s second-largest operator of satellite fleet revenue and has signed two MEV contracts with SpaceLogistics. Armor said that SpaceLogistics’ first MEV launch won Licensed and insured by the FCC and NOAA, the launch is scheduled to be booked through the American International Launch Service as one of the two payloads on the Russian proton rocket in early 2019. Once
is in orbit, the MEV will be docked with the Intelsat901 satellite in orbit. Intelsat JeanLuc Froeliger, vice president of satellite operations and engineering, said, “This is simply a graveyard track.” Froelinger added that after the two vehicles are docked, Intelsat will bring the stack into the designated slot of the communications satellite in the geostationary orbit.
MEV1 is in Virginia Manufactured at the rail ATK plant in Dulles, California. Image source: Orbital ATK
MEV1 is manufactured at Orbital ATK’s Dulles, Virginia facility. Image source: Orbital ATK
In 2020, Space Logistics plans to launch a second MEV on the Ariane 5 rocket in Europe to meet another Intelsat satellite. Armor said that if the encounter and docking in 2019 go smoothly, the second MEV will dock to the target satellite in the geosynchronous zone. For mission 20230, the International Satellite Telecommunications Organization hopes to “make and cancel multiple stops during the [five-year contract] so they can do more fleet management,” Armor said. Bryan Benedict, Senior Director of
SES Government Solutions Innovation and Satellite Projects, praised Intelsat’s plan to become the first customer for mission expansion services and to hold an initial appointment outside of the geostationary zone traveling with frequency. Benedict said at the Space Technology Expo: “In order to be a good steward of geostationary space, they need to spend more money to do this demonstration.”
SpaceLogistics announced its second-generation life extension platform plan in March. : Mission robot carrier, this is a mothership with 10 to 12 mission extension pod (MEP) rings. The mission robotic vehicle is designed to reach behind the customer’s satellite and use its robotic arm to install the MEP. The MEP is equipped with a xenon propulsion module and the power and communication systems required for operation.
Once the capsules are in place, SpaceLogistics customers will own and operate them, which is different from the MEV that SpaceLogistics plans to operate as a customer service. Armor said MEP can extend the life of a 2,000 kg communications satellite by five years.
At the same time, the mission’s robotic vehicles can perform simple robotic repairs, such as releasing solar panels that haven’t been deployed properly, Anderson said. Armor said
SpaceLogistics is investing in the technology needed for more complex tasks, such as extensive inspections of the satellite’s exterior, installation of managed payloads, extensive repairs, capturing spacecraft without launch rings, and mounting structures in orbit. The fabrication and assembly of the large
Onorbit spacecraft is the focus of the Commercial Robot Assembly and Service Infrastructure (CIRAS), which is the turning point for space logistics in cooperation with NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. . Through the Tipping Point program, NASA seeks to stimulate the development of commercial capabilities that the space agency needs in the future.
SpaceLogistics plans to conduct a ground demonstration of its CIRAS technology this summer. “After that, we hope to get a follow-up contract for an on-orbit demonstration,” Anderson said.
Inspace transportation is another element of SpaceLogistics’ business plan. Future vehicles equipped with high-power solar electric propulsion systems can deliver supplies to earth-moon orbits or other destinations. “We will propose the lunar orbital platform portal power and propulsion elements,” Anderson said. “This is on our technology roadmap.”