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Orbit Fab Completes Tests of its GRIP Refueling Nozzle 

By Rachel Jewett | July 2, 2024
Rendering of Orbit Fab's RAFTI refueling ports. Photo: Orbit Fab

Rendering of Orbit Fab’s RAFTI refueling ports. Photo: Orbit Fab

Orbit Fab has completed testing its refueling payload and GRIP capture and refueling nozzle. The company announced Tuesday that it conducted numerous tests with government representatives at the Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL’s) simulation facilities at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

In the tests, a fuel shuttle equipped with the GRIP mechanism simulated refueling a satellite low on fuel. The GRIP mechanism docked with the RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) refueling port and demonstrated docking, locking with the satellite, and pushing off from the satellite. 

Orbit Fab said this is a major readiness milestone ahead of upcoming refueling missions. The company delivered GRIP hardware and RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) refueling ports to customers this month ahead of missions for next year. 

Orbit Fab is supplying RAFTI refueling ports to the Space Force Tetra-5 program. During the mission, the Tetra-5 spacecraft developed by Orion Space Systems will connect with an Orbit Fab-supplied fuel depot, hosted on an Impulse Space satellite. The program completed a critical design review in January

Orbit Fab CEO Daniel Faber said the company is now ahead of schedule after the GRIP tests, and has retired major technical risks. 

“These successful performance tests of our GRIP active in-space nozzle and automated docking device mark a major accomplishment and milestone for our customers’ upcoming missions. The overall space economy is able to use GRIP and RAFTI refueling interfaces to redefine dynamic space operations,” Faber commented in a news release. 

[Read more from Via Satellite: Is In-Space Maneuvering Tech on the Cusp of a Breakthrough?]