31. March 2018
During the last SATELLITE 2018 Conference and Expo, Aerospace Enterprise Orbital ATK introduced two new in-orbit satellite maintenance products : the Mission Robotic Vehicle ( MRV ) and Mission Extension Pods (MEPS). These new products will join the company's Mission Extension Vehicle ( MEV ) to create a range of satellite service technologies in orbit that can extend the life of existing satellites.
The MEP is an external propulsion module that connects to an aging satellite that is low in fuel and provides up to five years of additional orbital life. After installation, the customer controls the MEP via an independent C or Ku-band telemetry and command system.
The main mission of the MRV spacecraft is to transport and install MEPs and other payloads to customer satellites. The MRV can also provide space robotic capabilities for in-orbit repairs and other functions. Orbital ATK's SpaceLogistics subsidiary will operate the new system, which is currently scheduled to launch in 2021.
"The introduction of MEPs enables us to offer a complementary service in addition to our MEVs to meet the needs of the industry by providing low-risk, low-cost stations for all types of geosynchronous satellites," said Tom Wilson. President of SpaceLogistics about a publication. "We always wanted to expand our fleet to offer a wide range of space logistics services, and the MEV, MEP and MRV products give our customers the ability to choose exactly the type of extension or repair they need. " 19659017] Both new products are designed to leverage the design elements of the MEV, Orbital ATK's initial satellite service spacecraft. The MEV is based on the company's GEOStar 3 bus, which has been modified to safely dock with another satellite in geosynchronous orbit. Modifications include an integrated sensor array and a mechanical docking mechanism that is compatible with approximately 80 percent of all geosynchronous satellites currently in orbit.
Once docked, the MEV controls the location and orbital maintenance of the connected spacecraft to meet the alignment and station customer's needs. When the service is no longer needed, the MEV is undocked and passed on to the next satellite, which must be serviced. The MEV can dock and undock several times during its expected lifespan of 15 years.
Orbital ATK is currently working on the production of its first two MEVs. MEV-1 should start at the end of 2018, MEV-2 should start in early 2020. Commercial Communications Satellite Service Provider Intelsat is the first customer of the first two MEVs.
SpaceLogistics has a long-term plan to develop a range of service spacecraft in orbit capable of providing a variety of space logistics services including space-based repair, assembly and transportation. The company also works with US government agencies to develop and implement new capabilities for the MEV spacecraft fleet. These capabilities may include the next generation of repair and life-extension spacecraft, the orbiting of large structures, and the provision of lunar and Martian space gateway spacecraft freight delivery services.
Video courtesy of Orbital ATK
Jim Sharkey is a laboratory assistant, author and scientist working in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab, and the Shuttle -Astronauts Owen K. Garriott grew up. As a young Star Trek fan, he participated in the letter campaign that led to the Space Shuttle prototype being called Enterprise.
While his academic studies range from psychology and archeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. In 2004, Jim started blogging about science, science fiction and futurism.
Jim lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and has visited NASA Socials for the rover landing of the Curiosity Mars Science Laboratory and the lunar launch of NASA LADEE.