Satellites servicing satellites, in orbit.
In a triumph for the nascent industry of "satellite servicing," an aging communications satellite has returned to service in geostationary orbit. Northrop Grumman announced Friday that its Mission Extension Vehicle-1, or MEV-1, has restored the Intelsat 901 satellite and relocated it into a position to resume operations.
"We see increased demand for our connectivity services around the world, and preserving our customers’ experience using innovative technology such as MEV-1 is helping us meet that need,” Intelsat Chief Services Officer Mike DeMarco said in a news release.
In a historic first, one private satellite docks to another in orbit
After launching on a Proton rocket last October, Northrop Grumman's servicing vehicle used its mechanical docking system to latch onto Intelsat 901 on February 25, at an altitude of 36,000km above Earth.
Since then, the MEV-1 servicer has assumed navigation of the combined spacecraft stack, reducing the satellite's inclination by 1.6 degrees and relocating it to a new orbital location, at 332.5° east. Intelsat then transitioned about 30 of its commercial and government customers to the satellite two weeks ago. The transition of service took approximately six hours and was successful.
Based on the agreement between Northrop and Intelsat, MEV-1 will provide five years of life extension services to the satellite before moving it into a graveyard orbit. MEV-1 will then be available to provide additional mission extension services, Northrop said, including orbit raising, inclination corrections, and inspections. Northrop is already building a second MEV to service another Intelsat satellite, 1002, later this year.It's Northrop Grumman so I suppose it costs the earth but it's progress.