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Intelsat Signs Four-Year MEV Satellite Life Extension Deal with Northrop Grumman

By Jeffrey Hill | May 23, 2024

An artist rendering of the Mission Extension Vehicle docked to a client satellite. (Provided by: Northrop Grumman SpaceLogistics)

Satellite operator Intelsat has signed with Northrop Grumman‘s SpaceLogistics to utilize its two Mission Extension Vehicles (MEVs) and service its satellites for at least another four years. The contract agreement, announced Thursday, is itself a life-extension of a six-year-long partnership between the two companies that has showcased how the MEV-1 and MEV-2 vehicles can extend the life of aging Geostationary Orbit (GEO satellites beyond their typical 15-20 year lifespan.

SpaceLogistics’ MEV-1 vehicle docked with Intelsat’s IS-901 in 2020, marking the first time that two commercial spacecraft docked and began mission-extension service in GEO. After docking, MEV-1 pointed IS-901 to targeted antennas on Earth. Intelsat said the maneuver extended the satellite’s life for another five years.

Under the terms of the new agreement, MEV-1 will release the IS-901 satellite into a GEO graveyard orbit and then provide service for another Intelsat satellite. IS-901 launched in June 2001 to provide spot beam coverage for Europe and C-band coverage over the Atlantic Ocean.

The announcement did not specify which Intelsat satellite MEV-1 will dock with next.

MEV-2 has been docked with Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite since 2021. The new agreement extends the time it will service the satellite by several years, nearly doubling service from the original contract. The Airbus-built IS-10-02 satellite was launched nearly 20 years ago and has been in service since August 2004. Intelsat shares capacity on the satellite with Telenor Satellite to provide media distribution and broadband services to customers across Europe, the Middle East, Africa and South America.

“As technology pioneers for the in-space servicing industry, our two MEVs have provided a combined seven years of life extension to increase our customer’s satellite lifetime and support our joint commitment to making space sustainable,” SpaceLogistics President Rob Hauge said in the announcement.

Financial details of the contract extension were not disclosed.