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Why Intelsat’s going with life extension over refueling

11 Jul 2018, 13:46 UTC
Why Intelsat’s going with life extension over refueling
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

This article originally appeared in the June 4, 2018 issue of SpaceNews magazine.
Intelsat-901, a 17-year-old communications satellite running low on propellant, is awaiting a first-of-its-kind service call from a robotic spacecraft carrying a fresh tank of fuel.
Orbital ATK’s first Mission Extension Vehicle, MEV-1, is slated to launch in early next year on a groundbreaking mission to dock with Intelsat-901 and take over orbital station-keeping duties, extending the satellite’s service life by several more years.
But first the two spacecraft will spend two or three months in a graveyard orbit 300 kilometers above Intelsat-901’s geostationary neighbors conducting tests and demonstrating the pair can fly as a connected unit before climbing back down under MEV-1’s control and return to commercial service sometime in 2019.
It’s been just over two years since Intelsat — one of the world’s largest satellite fleet operators — signed on as the first customer for the satellite-servicing venture Orbital ATK revived under its SpaceLogistics subsidiary after its ViviSat joint venture with U.S. Space ended in a lawsuit.
In December, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission gave SpaceLogistics approval to rendezvous and dock with Intelsat-901, a Space Systems Loral-built satellite that’s being replaced by the high-throughput Intelsat-37e satellite ...

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