Author Topic: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing  (Read 14774 times)

Online oldAtlas_Eguy

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Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« on: 03/02/2016 03:23 PM »
https://www.orbitalatk.com/space-systems/human-space-advanced-systems/vivisat/docs/FS011_15_OA_3862%20ViviSat.pdf


Orbital believes that there is a  business case  closure for servicing GEOSATS. I wonder if Orbital has been quietly adding to their sat buss design easy prop transfer connections between platforms? If they have then they would have a straight forward system to do prop transfer between Orbital manufactured sat buss. supposedly they are spending real development funds for a GEO sat buss derived repair vehicle that hosts some of the Cygnus avionics and software for automated rendezvous.

So this tread is to explore the questions:

Capabilities of the vehicle?

Will it be able to service Orbital manufactured only sat buss or any sat buss?

How will the repair/service be paid? By the operator or by the insurer? (Opinion: Use of the same model for repair claims as the auto  industry where if repair costs more than the "total loss" pay out then repair would not be paid for.)


http://spacenews.com/orbital-atk-believes-in-satellite-servicing-but-not-in-rocket-reusability/

Will the business case close? How is the business case closure accomplished?

« Last Edit: 03/03/2016 01:37 PM by Chris Bergin »

Offline Oli

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #1 on: 03/02/2016 04:14 PM »

I'm very skeptical.

Boeing's 702SP platform satellites for example only need 5kg of xenon per year for station keeping. I can't see refueling making economic sense.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #2 on: 03/02/2016 04:19 PM »
SES has been talking about this a bit. They see refuel+new instrument missions as secondaries on full fledged GEO missions.
Apparently, they would send one of their birds with a "parasite" module. The main sat would get as close as reasonable to the old sat, release the module, and continue to its final position. The module would self dock with the big bird.
It will require the satellite not only to have propellant access, but also data, thermal and power hooks for the new payload and have surplus control authority. I bet that OrbitalATK can be an excellent partner for this sort of system.

Offline Chalmer

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #3 on: 03/02/2016 04:24 PM »
Sounds like lots of exciting things are happening in OrbitalATK.

With regards to the satellite in-orbit servicing, it sounds like it is mostly refueling for telecom sats in geo orbit, and maybe some simple repairs. And that they already have one or more anchor costumers.

How this will work, i have no idea. Can you refuel a satelite that was not designed to be refueled?

In the article they state that they expect to begin in 2019. That would suggest satelites already in orbit today.

Does anyone with insight into the operations of geo orbit telecom satelites know what value extra fuel would have for satelites already in orbit, and in position? I know they need fuel for station keeping. But would access to regular refueling add something more than longer lifespan (can station keep for more years)?

Im looking forward to hearing more details later this year from OrbitalATK.
« Last Edit: 03/02/2016 04:27 PM by Chalmer »

Offline Bynaus

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #4 on: 03/02/2016 04:32 PM »
Quote
Apparently, they would send one of their birds with a "parasite" module.

But then - why not just equip the satellite with a tank the size of the parasite module? Sure, you can't refuel the old ones that way, but then at least the new ones could simply skip rueling themselves... (at less overall complexity) I don't really see how a "parasitic" solution makes sense.

If at all, a separate vehicle should do the refueling. If the extended life-times of the refueled sats are more worth than the cost of this vehicle, you're good.

Offline MattMason

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #5 on: 03/02/2016 04:43 PM »
It's clear that older satellites couldn't make this work, and that geo-sats are often designed with economy to help them last for a decade.

But could such refueling or service make them last longer? Or, with advances to technology, would extra longevity actually make them less practical to maintain?

As an I.T. guy, I encounter this dilemma often with customers that bring in a five, six, even 10 year old printer or computer that needs minor maintenance that has otherwise worked fine. The cost of labor to perform such maintenance, in addition to feature creep that has antiquated the device and decreased the number of genuine, non-refurbished parts or supplies makes upkeep far less practical in terms of functionality than giving the old device a good Christian burial and buying a new one.

You can't upgrade your geo-sat with a new one every 3 years, but you probably shouldn't spend a buttload of dough on servicing an 10 year old one unless it Really Pays Off for results or it's a one of a kind device. The Hubble Space Telescope comes to mind here.

If upgrading could be practical, the device needs to be configured from the start for this and an infrastructure with a service vehicle built for satellites in mind. I think Lockheed had built the Jupiter with this in mind.

EDIT: wrong word
« Last Edit: 03/02/2016 04:44 PM by MattMason »
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Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #6 on: 03/02/2016 05:09 PM »
DARPA are working towards having large GEO  platforms which host current satellite  payloads. OrbitalAtK  repair satellites are a step in this direction of large platforms.  Whether OA  build or own platform or just the build and fit payloads remains to be seen. These large GEO communication platforms could lead on to space  solar power stations. If SSP happens it will be a trillion dollar industry in which OA will want to be involved.

Offline starchasercowboy

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #7 on: 03/02/2016 06:33 PM »
What if??  Say the James Webb telescope has a problem after it's deployment, could this servicing vehicle observe the exterior, aid in a plan to repair, if it is equipped with an arm, maybe it could do a repair.  Didn't one of Lockheed's satellites AEHF kick motors fail a couple years ago and had to rely on its Hall effect thruster to raise the apogee. 

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #8 on: 03/02/2016 08:12 PM »
What if??  Say the James Webb telescope has a problem after it's deployment, could this servicing vehicle observe the exterior, aid in a plan to repair, if it is equipped with an arm, maybe it could do a repair.  Didn't one of Lockheed's satellites AEHF kick motors fail a couple years ago and had to rely on its Hall effect thruster to raise the apogee.

That was AEHF-1, which made it to GEO despite the apogee motor failure, but whose in-service date was delayed by about 8 months.  In that particular case, you probably couldn't put together a servicing mission and launch it in less time than the satellite took to get to GEO on its own with stationkeeping thrusters.

http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/11/aehf-2-handed-usaf-after-completing-on-orbit-testing/

From the Orbital conference call, Dave Thompson gives a very high-level description of the servicing module.
Quote
Based on the Orbital legacy Geostar Satellite Platform and our Cygnus Autonomous Rendezvous technology, together with the ATK heritage Hubble space telescope servicing devices and other prior work. The first of these new geosynchronous orbit servicing vehicles if the project proceeds as expected will commence operations following launch in early 2019.

Details on this project including anchor customer agreements and the technical capabilities of our servicing systems will be announced later this year.

Later on, he mentions that this will be privately funded:
Quote
At present, there is not and we do not anticipate government contribution to the space initiative. That is a new commercial service that we are preparing to offer and while over the long-term, government satellites may benefit from it and make use of it, we don't expect government funding during the development phase of that project.

Offline jhnphm

Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #9 on: 03/03/2016 03:04 AM »
The article is probably referring to this:

https://www.orbitalatk.com/space-systems/human-space-advanced-systems/vivisat/docs/FS011_15_OA_3862%20ViviSat.pdf

The idea is to extend the lifetime of existing satellites by acting as their station keeping thrusters, then reuse the extension vehicle on other satellites when the client satellites are decommissioned. No refueling, unlike the MDA concepts.

Offline baldusi

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat serviceing
« Reply #10 on: 03/03/2016 01:01 PM »
Again, from SES presentation, they state very clearly that the issue is payload obsolescence. Current satellites have a 20 year design life. The can do them upto 20kW. With SEP stationkeeping they can have more than enough operative propellant. What's that any good if in 10 years you are offering a very slow and expensive service because you can't offer the improved waveshapes? Or if today you have to use fixed signal strength but in 10 years your competitors can distribute power according to demand?
There's a reason SES talked about payload. And there's a reason they talked about sending new payloads on already scheduled missions. Not only a new payload can be done a lot cheaper (you don't need IMU, suntracker, APE, etc.), but you don't actually add missions. You use the same ground segment, you still do LEOPs as usual. You just add a bit of work to your ground team and the launch services cost is just incremental. Orbital ATK opportunity is so good because they have a lot of experience not only on the GEO side, but on RV operations. A GEO designed to tackle new payloads would have not only a special design, but also the necessary beacons and targets to make it very easy for the "parasite" payload to catch it. In fact, the new GEO sat might release it nearby and the old GEO sat might go and catch it. It's not like it would need a lot of incremental capabilities.

Offline Stan-1967

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #11 on: 03/07/2016 01:52 AM »
Interesting video.   So basically it's a life extension service inclusive of propulsion & stationkeeping.   So yes, it's target market seems to be sats nearing obsolence, and likely targeted for replacement.   I guess OA thinks the business case closes, that there is enough value to extending life vs. replacement.   

Offline catdlr

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #12 on: 04/11/2016 11:52 PM »
updated video that was previously pulled from YouTube:

Satellite Mission Extension Services
BY: Orbital ATK

Published on Apr 11, 2016
Orbital ATK's satellite life extension services employs our Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) which autonomously rendezvous and docks with the customer satellite to provide additional propulsion and attitude control.

Tony De La Rosa

Offline Kryten

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #13 on: 04/12/2016 09:00 PM »
 Orbital have secured Intelsat as an anchor customer for this service, and have started production on the first MEV, with launch set for late 2018.
http://www.orbitalatk.com/news-room/release.asp?prid=137
Quote
Dulles, Virginia and Luxembourg 12 April 2016 – Orbital ATK, Inc. (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced that Intelsat, S.A. (NYSE: I), operator of the world’s first Globalized Network, has signed a contract to become the first customer for Orbital ATK’s new satellite life extension service. [...] Under the agreement, Orbital ATK will manufacture, test and launch the first Commercial Servicing Vehicle (CSV), the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1), which incorporates flight-proven technologies the company has used in its commercial satellite and space logistics businesses.  After successfully completing a series of in-orbit tests, the MEV-1 will begin its mission extension service for Intelsat in 2019.

Offline rayleighscatter

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #14 on: 04/12/2016 11:14 PM »
I wonder if the MEV is small/light enough for launch on a Pegasus?

EDIT: At 2,000kg it looks like they'd have to go to a third party launcher.
« Last Edit: 04/13/2016 12:47 AM by rayleighscatter »

Offline synchrotron

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Offline Kryten

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #16 on: 04/13/2016 06:49 PM »
I wonder if the MEV is small/light enough for launch on a Pegasus?

EDIT: At 2,000kg it looks like they'd have to go to a third party launcher.
The video gives it as being directly inserted to GTO, so I'd expect lower payload slot on Ariane 5 for single launches (although Antares could do it). From the video and fact sheet it seems to be set up to allow dual launch without an adaptor, so they're probably looking at Falcon 9 in future.

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #17 on: 04/13/2016 08:47 PM »
Jeff Foust writes about this in SpaceNews.

First launch is planned for 2018, with a test docking to an Intelsat satellite in a graveyard orbit, followed by 5 years on an active Intelsat satellite.  On the business side, it's now an OA subsidiary called Space Logistics; the Vivisat joint venture is gone, on account of lack of external funding.  OA is hoping to build 5 in 5 years.

http://spacenews.com/orbital-atk-signs-intelsat-as-first-satellite-servicing-customer/

Offline Kryten

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #18 on: 05/03/2016 11:37 PM »
 US Space are suing OrbATK over the dissolution of the Vivisat sat joint venture; http://spacenews.com/u-s-space-sues-orbital-atk-over-vivisat-venture/

Offline Sam Ho

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Re: Orbital: In space GEOsat servicing
« Reply #19 on: 05/09/2016 10:28 PM »
Some information from the quarterly earnings conference call May 5:
http://finance.yahoo.com/news/edited-transcript-oa-earnings-conference-200923610.html
Quote
As another example in our Space Systems group, we announced in April, a five-year contract with Intelsat, the first customer for our in-space commercial satellite servicing system. This program is a great example of the new revenue opportunities created by our merger as we combine the Orbital legacy GEOStar satellite platform and Cygnus Autonomous Rendezvous technology with ATK Heritage Hubble telescope servicing devices and other prior work. If things proceed as planned, the first of an eventual fleet of up to five of these geosynchronous orbit servicing vehicles will commence operations following launch in early 2019, with four more such vehicles to follow in 2020 and 2021.

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