A start-up plans to open a spacecraft service station
You can not stop progress. A start-up named by Orbit Fab working in space infrastructure has just unveiled a project never before realized. It is build a space service station for vehicles in geostationary orbit.
This week, the company announced that it would open its satellite provisioning service from 2025. This is an initiative that will allow satellites and other spacecraft to spend more time in space. This will extend their lifespan and limit the amount of space junk in orbit.
Far from free
It’s not easy to send payloads into orbit, and the price to pay to resupply from Orbit Fab’s gas station confirms that. Indeed, we know that we will have to pay just over 20 million euros to obtain around 100 kg of hydrazine. The latter is the fuel generally used by geostationary satellites.
According to Adam Harris, vice president of business development at Orbit Fab, there is no certainty in the market when it comes to the cost of refueling. They want to bring this certainty with the announcement of this project.
How will the station operate?
According to information provided by the company, it will send fuel to a special store orbiting the Earth. This store will orbit the planet at a distance of about 300 km above geostationary orbit.
To fill the tanks of “customers”, they can moor at the service station and perform the operation themselves. A craft from Orbit Fab can also transport the fuel to the satellites that need it. However, the client satellites must be equipped with the interface RAFTI or Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface of the company, and most spacecraft are not yet equipped with it.
According to Jeremy Schiel, co-founder of the start-up, the design of the store is almost complete. They are currently working on the shuttle that will transport the fuel into space.
Schiel also indicated that they will start with geostationary orbit but will then continue with the orbits below.
In any case, if this project works, it will be a revolution in the satellite sector.