Astroscale US Taps Orbit Fab to Refuel Servicing Satellites
Astroscale U.S. has signed on as a customer for Orbit Fab’s “gas stations in space” refueling service. Orbit Fab’s fuel shuttle will refuel Astroscale’s fleet of Life Extension In-Orbit (LEXI) servicers in the future.
Astroscale said LEXI is the first satellite designed to be refueled. The spacecraft is slated to launch to Geostationary Orbit (GEO) by 2026, where it will perform life extension services for commercial operators, the U.S government and partner governments. Its services include station keeping and attitude control, momentum management, inclination correction, GEO relocation, and retirement to graveyard orbit.
Orbit Fab and Astroscale plan to integrate a piece of hardware called the Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface, or RAFTI, into the LEXI servicer to provide refueling capability. Orbit Fab expects to deploy dozens of fuel tankers and shuttles in the next five to ten years, and its first two fuel shuttles are set to launch in 2023.
“This agreement represents a transformational moment for space sustainability and the on-orbit servicing market,” said Ron Lopez, Astroscale U.S. president. “Astroscale and Orbit Fab are strengthening the value proposition for GEO life extension customers, driving new business models between on-orbit servicing companies in the space ecosystem and making orbital operations more sustainable.”
The companies called Tuesday’s announcement the first on-orbit satellite fuel sale agreement. Orbit Fab CEO Daniel Faber said it is a take-or-pay contract, and the specific terms were not disclosed.