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NASA Cancels OSAM-1 Mission Citing Cost and Schedule Issues

By Rachel Jewett | March 4, 2024

Maxar delivered the spacecraft bus for OSAM-1 to NASA in September 2023. Photo: Maxar

NASA made the decision to cancel the On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission, citing technical, cost, and schedule challenges. NASA announced the decision on March 1, which affects prime contractor Maxar

OSAM-1 was set to be the first mission to robotically refuel a satellite not designed for fueling or servicing. Yet NASA said there has been a “broader community evolution away from refueling unprepared spacecraft, which has led to a lack of a committed partner.” The servicer satellite was set to attach to the government’s Landsat 7 spacecraft and refuel its hydrazine fuel tank. 

Maxar delivered the spacecraft bus to NASA in September 2023, and the company was also building the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot, or SPIDER pallet, which would stow a robotic arm. 

NASA said the project shutdown will involve disposition of sensitive hardware, pursuing potential partnerships or alternative hardware uses, and licensing applicable technologies. NASA leadership will review the effect on the workforce at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

The project dealt with schedule delays, and a report by the NASA Office of the Inspector General in October 2023 said the project would come in over the $2.05 billion price tag. The OIG said most of the cost growth and schedule delays were due to Maxar’s “poor performance” on the bus and SPIDER contracts, and NASA had to provide unplanned labor and services for extra support on the project.