Northrop’s servicing robot extends the life of an orbiting satellite by five years

Intelsat’s IS-10-02 communications satellite was running low on fuel – it has been in orbit since 2004, after all, and has already exceeded the lifespan of its original mission by more than five years. Thanks to Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle-2MEV-2), However, it gained five more years of life and would remain operational rather than decommissioned. The MEV-2 was launched in August and has since been making its way to a satellite in geosynchronous orbit. On Monday, it achieved its target and climbed it to provide more fuel to the IS-10-02.

According to Techcrunch, A representative described the robotic spacecraft as a “jetpack for a 10-02 satellite”. The spokesperson explained the docking process as follows:

“The MEV-2 docking system includes a probe that we put into the liquid Apogee engine at the back of a satellite. About 80% of the satellites in orbit have this feature, giving the MEV service a variety of customers. Liquid Apogee. . The engine acts as a “catch the cone” to help direct the probe, which once passes through the engine’s throat, the client expands to hold the satellite. The probe is then placed three against the launching ring. The stanchion or legs are pulled and retracted., Securely tying two vehicles together. “

this Mark For the first time a life-extension service vehicle was able to dock in its active GEO orbital location with an active satellite. The MEV-2’s predecessor, the MEV-1, closed last year on Intelsat’s IS-901. The satellite was already out of fuel and was thrown out of its original orbit at that time. As Techcrunch Notes, Northrop Grumman had to ensure that MEV-2’s approach would not impede the operation and orbit of its target. By successfully doing so, the Aerospace Corporation proved that it is possible to serve active satellites, which means that companies can save millions by extending the lives of their old space objects.

The MEV-2 will remain with the IS-10-02 before extending the life of the second satellite. In addition to MEV, the company is working on robotic vehicles that can perform in-orbit repair, augmentation, assembly, and inspection. Those vehicles will also be used to deliver life-giving pods to satellites to extend the lifetime of their missions without the need to dock with their targets. Northrop Grumman hopes to launch both of those technologies by 2024.

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