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Northrop Grumman MEV-2 spacecraft providers Intelsat 1002 

The view from Northrop Grumman’s MEV-2 spacecraft because it approached to dock with Intelsat satellite tv for pc IS-1002.


Two aerospace companies achieved an business first on Monday, as a small Northrop Grumman spacecraft docked efficiently with an lively Intelsat satellite tv for pc to supply service and prolong its life.

Intelsat’s IS-1002 satellite tv for pc is almost 18 years outdated, and working effectively previous its anticipated lifespan, however the Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft referred to as MEV-2 will add one other 5 years of life to IS-1002, primarily re-fueling the satellite tv for pc and giving it a brand new engine for management.

The businesses hit a milestone within the rising enterprise of servicing satellites whereas in area.

“Right this moment’s profitable docking of our second Mission Extension Automobile additional demonstrates the reliability, security and utility of in-space logistics,” Tom Wilson, vice chairman of Nothrop Grumman’s strategic area methods stated in a press release. “The success of this mission paves the best way for our second technology of servicing satellites and robotics, providing flexibility and resiliency for each industrial and authorities satellite tv for pc operators, which might allow fully new courses of missions.”

A detailed up have a look at Intelsat’s IS-1002 satellite tv for pc as MEV-2 approached for docking in orbit.


Extending the lifetime of an lively spacecraft in orbit has solely been executed with human assist earlier than—such because the Hubble telescope servicing missions performed by NASA astronauts.

Launched in August on an Arianespace Ariane 5 rocket, the robotic MEV-2 spent the final a number of months touring out to the satellite tv for pc. MEV-2 then matched its orbit earlier than efficiently docking, whereas additionally offering distinctive imagery of the satellite tv for pc because the spacecraft approached.

IS-1002 was launched in June 2004 and was solely meant to be in service for 13 years, offering broadband communications providers to Europe, South America, Africa and the Center East. The satellite tv for pc is in a hard and fast place above the Earth in what is named geosynchronous orbit—tens of 1000’s of miles as much as present as large a protection space as successfully doable.

The MEV-2 mission builds upon the success of Northrop Grumman’s MEV-1 mission final 12 months, which docked with an inactive Intelsat satellite tv for pc. That satellite tv for pc was in a “graveyard orbit,” that means it was not offering providers, however MEV-1 restored it and moved the satellite tv for pc again into place.

The MEV-2 spacecraft, whereas much like MEV-1, took that mission a step additional by docking and increasing the lifetime of a satellite tv for pc presently in service.

Northern Sky Analysis, a satellite tv for pc consulting agency, estimates that the marketplace for satellite tv for pc servicing and life extensions is a $3.2 billion alternative over the following decade.

The agency forecasts that there’s demand for servicing upward of 75 satellites by 2030, with corporations and governments trying to prolong the lifespan of sometimes costly geosynchronous equatorial orbit satellites, relatively than launch replacements.

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