WASHINGTON — Two startups are partnering on technology that they hope can jump-start the market for in-space refueling of satellites.
Orbit Fab and Benchmark Space Systems announced Feb. 23 that they are teaming up to provide the capability to refuel Benchmark’s thrusters with hydrogen peroxide propellant provided by an Orbit Fab tanker in low Earth orbit.
That tanker spacecraft, called Tanker-001 Tenzing, will launch on a SpaceX rideshare mission later this year brokered by Spaceflight. Benchmark will test fueling that tanker on the ground before launch using an interface called RAFTI developed by Orbit Fab. That same interface will be bundled with Benchmark’s thrusters for customers seeking in-space refueling of their spacecraft.
“This was an obvious step. We wanted to make our fueling port availing to more and more customers,” Daniel Faber, chief executive of Orbit Fab, said in an interview. “It made sense to bundle these as a product offering to make it simpler for satellite integrators and satellite operators.”
Benchmark doesn’t have any of its thrusters in orbit but has several customers, including Spaceflight, which will use them on its Sherpa tug. Chris Carella, vice president of business development and strategy at Benchmark, said the company expects to ...