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Intelsat Orders a Northrop Grumman Mission Extension Pod 

By Rachel Jewett | April 13, 2023

The SpaceLogistics Mission Robotic Vehicle uses its sophisticated robotics to attach Mission Extension Pods. Photo: SpaceLogistics/Northrop Grumman

Intelsat has ordered a Northrop Grumman Mission Extension Pod (MEP) to service one of its satellites for at least six years beginning in 2026. Intelsat announced the deal on Thursday, but has not identified which of its satellites in Geostationary Orbit (GEO) will get the service. 

The MEP is a propulsion augmentation device from Northrop subsidiary SpaceLogistics. It is installed via a Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) on a client satellite that is running low on fuel. It can provide six years of life extension for a 2,000 kg satellite. 

Intelsat and Northrop Grumman made history in 2020 when the SpaceLogistics’ Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) performed the first-ever in-orbit commercial spacecraft docking with Intelsat 901. A second MEV began providing similar life-extension services for Intelsat 10-02 in 2021. 

“Intelsat is committed to safe and sustainable stewardship of space,” said Intelsat CTO Bruno Fromont. “Intelsat successfully led the industry four years ago with the first in-orbit servicing of satellites in cooperation with Northrop Grumman. The new MEP will also ensure the Intelsat mission of providing the most reliable service to our customers.”

Australian satellite operator placed the first order for an MEP for its D3 satellite planned for 2025, the companies announced in February 2022.