Author Topic: Effective Space signs first contract for satellite life extension  (Read 1437 times)

Offline Darkseraph

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Effective Space signs first contract for satellite life extension

Quote
WASHINGTON — Effective Space, a U.K.-headquartered company developing spacecraft to extend the life of communications satellites, announced Jan. 17 that it has signed its first contract with an undisclosed customer.

Effective Space said the contract, with a “major regional satellite operator,” covers the launch of two of its Space Drone satellite life extension vehicles in 2020, which will dock with two of the customer’s existing satellites to provide stationkeeping and attitude control capabilities. The company said the multi-year contract has a total value of more than $100 million.

Wow, have not heard about Effective Space before. With this announcement, Orbital ATK's two MEVs and SSLs contracts for Restore-L/RSGS, satellite servicing appears to becoming a thing over the next 5 years!   
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Offline Lar

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To my mind, this validates OrbitalATK (and the earlier DARPA research) nicely. Nothing says "this is probably a real market" like a competitor...
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Offline Donosauro

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It would be nice to have the technology well-demonstrated before Hubble needs it.

Offline brickmack

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It would be nice to have the technology well-demonstrated before Hubble needs it.

I don't think any of these concepts are particularly relevant to Hubble's needs. Firstly, Hubble was designed from the beginning for servicing and now has a real docking port (after STS-125), so the capability to attach just using existing structures is not relevant. Secondly, Hubble has no propulsion of its own whatsoever, so RESTORE-L's propellant transfer ability doesn't matter. Thirdly, there are two mission profiles which are useful for Hubble, and the first of these is necessary for the second anyway: 1. Controlled deorbit of the spacecraft to prevent impact in an inhabited area (uncontrolled reentry is not viable, Hubble is too large and too many pieces like the dense optics would survive), or 2. Reboost the spacecraft to extend its life, service it (reboost without servicing is pointless, equipment failures are expected to kill it not much after it would fall back to earth anyway), and provide capability for future controlled deorbit. None of these vehicles support the sorts of robotics and external stowage that would be needed for a servicing mission (ideally you'd want humans, but past studies have concluded minimal servicing is possible robotically on Hubble). And both this and MEV use electric propulsion, which is not suitable for controlled deorbit (takes weeks to deorbit that way, and you'll have the majority of the braking done by the upper atmosphere which takes away your ability to pick an impact site)

Offline Donosauro

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It would be nice to have the technology well-demonstrated before Hubble needs it.

I don't think any of these concepts are particularly relevant to Hubble's needs. Firstly, Hubble was designed from the beginning for servicing and now has a real docking port (after STS-125), so the capability to attach just using existing structures is not relevant. Secondly, Hubble has no propulsion of its own whatsoever, so RESTORE-L's propellant transfer ability doesn't matter. Thirdly, there are two mission profiles which are useful for Hubble, and the first of these is necessary for the second anyway: 1. Controlled deorbit of the spacecraft to prevent impact in an inhabited area (uncontrolled reentry is not viable, Hubble is too large and too many pieces like the dense optics would survive), or 2. Reboost the spacecraft to extend its life, service it (reboost without servicing is pointless, equipment failures are expected to kill it not much after it would fall back to earth anyway), and provide capability for future controlled deorbit. None of these vehicles support the sorts of robotics and external stowage that would be needed for a servicing mission (ideally you'd want humans, but past studies have concluded minimal servicing is possible robotically on Hubble). And both this and MEV use electric propulsion, which is not suitable for controlled deorbit (takes weeks to deorbit that way, and you'll have the majority of the braking done by the upper atmosphere which takes away your ability to pick an impact site)

The article does not mention RESTORE-L or propellant transfer. It says that Space Drone will attach to the target satellite and take over maneuvering.

I was not suggesting that the first iteration of Space Drone could be used unchanged for Hubble. And, yes, such an approach would only be useful if Hubble had suffered failures that affected its ability to do attitude control but still had working instruments.

You are right, of course, that electric propulsion is no good for performing a controlled de-orbit. Using Space Drone, or a successor, to extend the useful life of Hubble would not necessarily have anything to do with Hubble's eventual de-orbiting, though the Drone's electric propulsion could be used to maintain Hubble's orbit until NASA was ready to perform a controlled de-orbit.

Edit: "electrical propulsion" --> "electric propulsion"
« Last Edit: 01/18/2018 01:49 am by Donosauro »

Offline Tywin

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Offline Steven Pietrobon

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Important agreement for Effective Space and IAI:

https://spacenews.com/effective-space-announces-partnership-with-iai-for-satellite-servicing-development/

The interesting bit.

'Space Drone will attach to satellites in geostationary orbit to take over stationkeeping and attitude control. Effective Space has been working on the design of the spacecraft, including recent tests of the docking system, with plans to launch the first two Space Drone vehicles on a Proton in 2020 for an unidentified “international satellite operator.”"
Akin's Laws of Spacecraft Design #1:  Engineering is done with numbers.  Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

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