Northrop Grumman robotic MEV-2 spacecraft, in a primary, catches energetic Intelsat satellite tv for pc

The view from Northrop Grumman’s MEV-2 spacecraft because it approached to dock with Intelsat satellite tv for pc IS-10-02.


Two aerospace corporations completed an trade first on Monday, as a small Northrop Grumman spacecraft docked efficiently with an energetic Intelsat satellite tv for pc to supply service and prolong its life.

Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite tv for pc is almost 18 years previous, and working effectively previous its anticipated lifespan, however the Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft known as MEV-2 will add one other 5 years of life to IS-10-02, basically 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.

“As we speak’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 mentioned in an announcement. “The success of this mission paves the way in which for our second era of servicing satellites and robotics, providing flexibility and resiliency for each business and authorities satellite tv for pc operators, which may allow totally new lessons of missions.”

A detailed up have a look at Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite tv for pc as MEV-2 approached for docking in orbit.


Extending the lifetime of an energetic spacecraft in orbit has solely been accomplished with human assist earlier than—such because the Hubble telescope servicing missions carried out 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-10-02 was launched in June 2004 and was solely supposed 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 set 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 last year, which docked with an inactive Intelsat satellite tv for pc. That satellite tv for pc was in a “graveyard orbit,” which 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 at present in service. This implies there was extra danger concerned, on condition that IS-10-02 is serving clients, together with offering tv providers to greater than 18 million households in Europe.

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

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

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