DARPA's RSGS satellite-servicing payload has completed key tests and is on track to be integrated with a Northrop Grumman spacecraft next year and launch to orbit in 2024
There’s a cloud hanging over the industry in the form of geopolitical tensions over the use of anti-satellite weapons and a lack of clear rules on what constitutes threatening behavior in space, in contrast to peaceful commercial activities.
SpaceLogistics, a satellite-servicing firm owned by Northrop Grumman, last week successfully fired the electric propulsion system it is developing for the Mission Extension Pods it plans to launch in 2024.
Developers of satellite servicing technologies expect interest in refueling and life extension to come from customers in geostationary orbit and beyond, while low Earth orbit operators instead seek end-of-life disposal services.
With the technical feasibility of satellite servicing now being demonstrated, companies and other organizations in the field are now grappling with other issues, from legal and regulatory challenges to the development of standards.
How the Pentagon buys launch services in the future could change as the military considers using emerging technologies and services known as “space mobility and logistics.”
With the first commercial satellite servicing spacecraft about to launch, industry executives argue that government agencies, primarily seen as developers of key servicing technologies, also need to be customers of those systems.
Orbital ATK subsidiary SpaceLogistics plans to offer customers a wide range of products and services, beginning with its Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) and progressing to in-orbit spacecraft assembly, repair and cis-lunar transportation.