In-orbit satellite servicing is now reality. That’s Defining Possible.
What is SpaceLogistics?
SpaceLogistics, a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, provides cooperative space logistics and in-orbit satellite servicing to geosynchronous satellite operators using its fleet of commercial servicing vehicles—the Mission Extension Vehicle, the Mission Robotic Vehicle and the Mission Extension Pods.
Pioneering a New Market in Space
SpaceLogistics currently provides in-orbit satellite servicing to geosynchronous satellite operators using the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV)™ which docks with customers’ existing satellites providing the propulsion and attitude control needed to extend their lives. This enables satellite operators to activate new markets, drive asset value and protect their franchises.
Our Life Extension Services
Mission Extension Vehicle
The Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1), the industry’s first satellite life extension vehicle, completed its first docking to a client satellite, Intelsat IS-901 on February 25, 2020. MEV is designed to dock to geostationary satellites whose fuel is nearly depleted. Once connected to its client satellite, MEV uses its own thrusters and fuel supply to extend the satellite’s lifetime. When the customer no longer desires MEV’s service, the spacecraft will undock and move on to the next client satellite. The second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-2) launched August 15, 2020 with the Northrop Grumman-built Galaxy 30 satellite. MEV-2 docked with the Intelsat IS-1002 satellite on April 12, 2021.
SpaceLogistics: MEV Mission Profile Videos
Mission Robotic Vehicle
The MRV is SpaceLogistics’ next-generation on-orbit servicing vehicle. Scheduled for launch in 2024 the MRV leverages the heritage Rendezvous Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) system of the MEV, but incorporates a robotic arm payload – developed and integrated by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and provided by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency – in place of the MEV’s docking system. The sophisticated robotics of the MRV will expand the benefits the MEV currently offers to our clients to include detailed robotic inspection, augmentation, relocation, repair, active debris removal, and docking with non-standard client spacecraft interfaces.
In the video below, the Flight Robotic Arm System 1 (RAS-1) is executing an exercise called the Gauntlet which moves the arm through a series of poses that exercise the full motion of all seven degrees of freedom. RAS-1 completed integration and is now in preparation for unit level thermal vacuum testing.
Mission Extension Pods
Our next generation system, Mission Extension Pods, are a smaller and less expensive life extension service that only performs orbit control. The new pods augment the propulsion system of aging satellites and provide six years of life extension. The Mission Robotic Vehicle will be used to install these pods on existing in-orbit commercial and government client satellites.
Testing the MRV’s Flight Robotic Arm System #1 “Gauntlet” Comprehensive Trajectory
MRV AND MEP
Our vision is to establish a fleet of commercial servicing vehicles in GEO that can address most any servicing need. Northrop Grumman continues to make deep investments in in-orbit servicing and is working closely with U.S. Government agencies to develop the next generation space logistics technologies. These technologies include robotics and high-power solar electric propulsion to enable future services building upon our keep-it-simple approach to satellite life extension. These future services are expected to include:
- Propellant augmentation,
- Inspection and repair,
- Replacement or enhancement of parts and systems,
- Incorporation of auxiliary propulsion, navigation, power, payloads and other functions to enhance the performance or extend the satellite’s life,
- And in-orbit robotic assembly of space structures
We support industry standard architectures to maximize the number of spacecraft that can be serviced in the future.
Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program
The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected SpaceLogistics as its commercial partner for the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program. The groundbreaking mission will feature the first-ever commercial robotic servicing spacecraft and expand the market for satellite servicing of both commercial and government client satellites with advanced robotics technology. The enhanced capabilities include in-orbit repair, augmentation, assembly, detailed inspection and relocation of client satellites.
Satellite Servicing in Action
SpaceLogistics Announces Launch Agreement with SpaceX and First Mission Extension Pod Contract with Optus
Satellite of the Year Award
Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX, announced as Satellite Executive of the Year and Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle-1 named as Satellite Technology of the …
Northrop Grumman and Intelsat Make History with Docking of Second Mission Extension Vehicle to Extend Life of Satellite
Successful docking paves the way for future on-orbit and life-extension services through robotics