The view from Northrop Grumman’s MEV-2 spacecraft because it approached to dock with Intelsat satellite tv for pc IS-10-02.
Two aerospace companies achieved an trade first on Monday, as a small Northrop Grumman spacecraft docked efficiently with an lively Intelsat satellite tv for pc to offer service and lengthen its life.
Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite tv for pc is almost 18 years previous, and working properly previous its anticipated lifespan, however the Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft known as MEV-2 will add one other 5 years of life to IS-10-02, primarily re-fueling the satellite tv for pc and giving it a brand new engine for management.
The firms hit a milestone within the rising enterprise of servicing satellites whereas in area.
“Today’s successful docking of our second Mission Extension Vehicle further demonstrates the reliability, safety and utility of in-space logistics,” Tom Wilson, vp of Northrop Grumman’s strategic area methods mentioned in a press release. “The success of this mission paves the way for our second generation of servicing satellites and robotics, offering flexibility and resiliency for both commercial and government satellite operators, which can enable entirely new classes of missions.”
A detailed up take a look at Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite tv for pc as MEV-2 approached for docking in orbit.
Extending the lifetime of an lively spacecraft in orbit has solely been carried out with human assist earlier than—such because the Hubble telescope servicing missions performed by NASA astronauts.
Launched in August on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, the robotic MEV-2 spent the final a number of months touring out to the satellite tv for pc. MEV-2 then matched its orbit earlier than efficiently docking, whereas additionally offering distinctive imagery of the satellite tv for pc because the spacecraft approached.
IS-10-02 was launched in June 2004 and was solely supposed to be in service for 13 years, offering broadband communications services to Europe, South America, Africa and the Middle East. The satellite tv for pc is in a set place above the Earth in what is named geosynchronous orbit—tens of hundreds of miles as much as present as vast a protection space as successfully doable.
The MEV-2 mission builds upon the success of Northrop Grumman’s MEV-1 mission last year, which docked with an inactive Intelsat satellite tv for pc. That satellite tv for pc was in a “graveyard orbit,” that means it was now not offering services, however MEV-1 restored it and moved the satellite tv for pc again into place.
The MEV-2 spacecraft, whereas just like MEV-1, took that mission a step additional by docking and lengthening the lifetime of a satellite tv for pc at present in service. This means there was extra danger concerned, provided that IS-10-02 is serving prospects, together with offering tv services to greater than 18 million households in Europe.
Northern Sky Research, a satellite tv for pc consulting agency, estimates that the market for satellite servicing and life extensions is a $3.2 billion opportunity over the subsequent decade.
The agency forecasts that there’s demand for servicing upward of 75 satellites by 2030, with firms and governments seeking to lengthen the lifespan of sometimes costly geosynchronous equatorial orbit satellites, slightly than launch replacements.