Author Topic: Orbital ATK Receives Order for Second In-Orbit Satellite Servicing Vehicle  (Read 1756 times)

Offline jacqmans

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Orbital ATK Receives Order for Second In-Orbit Satellite Servicing Vehicle

Intelsat Commits to Second Life Extension Mission

Dulles, Virginia 4 January 2018 – Orbital ATK (NYSE: OA), a global leader in aerospace and defense technologies, today announced it has been awarded a contract for a second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-2). The vehicle was ordered by Intelsat S.A. to provide life extension services for an Intelsat satellite. Orbital ATK is now producing MEV-1, the industry’s first commercial in-space satellite servicing system, for Intelsat with launch scheduled for late 2018. Under this new agreement, Orbital ATK will manufacture, test and launch MEV-2 and begin mission extension services in mid-2020. The production of the second MEV is part of Orbital ATK’s longer-range plan to establish a fleet of in-orbit servicing vehicles that can address diverse space logistics needs including repair, assembly, refueling and in-space transportation.

“Work on MEV-1 is progressing rapidly toward a late 2018 launch with system-level testing beginning this spring,” said Tom Wilson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Logistics, LLC subsidiary. “With the launch of MEV-2, Orbital ATK will continue to pioneer in-space satellite servicing for commercial operators. Intelsat’s commitment to a second MEV demonstrates not only the market demand for our servicing vehicles, but also the customer’s confidence in our product.”

Through its Space Logistics subsidiary, Orbital ATK will introduce in-orbit commercial satellite servicing with MEV-1 late this year. The MEV is based on the company’s GEOStarTM spacecraft platform, and controlled by the company’s satellite operations team. The MEV uses a reliable, low-risk docking system that attaches to existing features on a customer’s satellite, and provides life-extending services by taking over the orbit maintenance and attitude control functions of the client’s spacecraft. Each MEV vehicle has a 15 year design life with the ability to perform numerous dockings and repositionings during its life span.

“Intelsat was an early proponent of the potential for mission extension technology,” said Ken Lee, Intelsat’s Senior Vice President, Space Systems. “In-orbit life extension, such as that provided by our two contracts with Orbital ATK, provides additional flexibility to our fleet management, allowing us to direct capital to new satellites while continuing to generate economic value from satellites in orbit. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Orbital ATK on commercializing this important new service.”

The work performed on MEV-2 will span multiple locations across the company. Orbital ATK’s spacecraft components division will be responsible for manufacturing the structures, propellant tanks and solar arrays at the company’s locations in San Diego and Goleta, California. The Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) laboratory, located at the company’s headquarters in Dulles, Virginia, will test the sensors, actuators and control algorithms that allow the MEV to approach and dock with the client spacecraft.

Orbital ATK plans to expand its satellite servicing capabilities to address additional in-orbit needs of customers. The company is investing significant internal capital and, through a NASA Space Act Agreement, working with U.S. government agencies to develop and implement new capabilities for the MEV fleet. These include next-generation life extension and repair vehicles, in-orbit assembly of large space structures and cargo delivery and related services to deep space gateways, such as in lunar orbit.

Offline Tomness

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with the launch anomaly with SES-14 &  AL YAH 3  (which is Orbital ATK Sat), could they launch MEV into direct insertion GEO to provide maximum MEV for these types of mission or slow and steady would be fine?

Offline Sam Ho

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with the launch anomaly with SES-14 &  AL YAH 3  (which is Orbital ATK Sat), could they launch MEV into direct insertion GEO to provide maximum MEV for these types of mission or slow and steady would be fine?
I'm not sure what you're proposing here.  SES-14 and Al Yah 3 are planning to relocate themselves to GSO using onboard propulsion at a cost of some of their normal stationkeeping propellant.  SES says it will cause them four weeks of delay to the on-orbit date, but that they should still meet the designed lifetime.  OA says Al Yah 3 will make it to GSO, but did not specify if the lifespan will be shortened.  SES-14 is all-electric and was originally slated for a Cape launch, and so probably has generous propellant margins.  Rough analysis suggests that getting from the VA241 orbit to GSO would cost around 3-5 extra years of stationkeeping propellant, minus whatever margin they launched with, so that's probably a worst-case estimate for Al Yah 3.  Given that VA241 was over 1700kg lighter than a typical Ariane 5 GTO mission, I would presume both spacecraft had their propellant tanks completely full.  Either way, neither satellite is likely to be a candidate for mission extension for a decade or more.

Offline TrevorMonty

By time they run low on few, OA will be offering refuelling, so only short visit by MEV will be required.

Offline primer_black

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I suppose it's worthwhile to note that a satellite doesn't need to be running low on fuel to be a candidate for MEV services; the operator could simply wish to avoid early life fuel expenditures of a plane change, stationkeeping, or any other maneuvering.

I suppose it's moot though, as the supply of MEVs is currently limited and customers with near-empty tanks are likely to bid more to keep their birds flying.

Offline TrevorMonty

The two MEV orders are for fleet customers. I'm guessing customer owns or leases MEV for fix period, so it wouldn't be available for other customers unless they deal can be struck with current owner.

I can see case for insurance companies owning one, lease it out when not required. They may even be able to make profit on it while still never needing the MEV themselves.

DOD is another potential customer, given cost of their satellites a MEV would be cheap insurance.

While current version can only attach and move satellites, future version will add refuelling and limited repair. Current version should be able to do inspections, which is still valuable feature.
Refuelling is probable most important feature as all functional satellites could benefit from a topup.
« Last Edit: 01/30/2018 09:54 PM by TrevorMonty »