Two aerospace firms accomplished an industry first on Monday, as a small Northrop Grumman spacecraft docked successfully with an active Intelsat satellite to provide service and extend its life.
Intelsat’s IS-10-02 satellite is nearly 18 years old, and operating well past its expected lifespan, but the Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft called MEV-2 will add another five years of life to IS-10-02, essentially re-fueling the satellite and giving it a new engine for control.
The companies hit a milestone in the growing business of servicing satellites while in space.
“Today’s successful docking of our second Mission Extension Vehicle further demonstrates the reliability, safety and utility of in-space logistics,” Tom Wilson, vice president of Nothrop Grumman’s strategic space systems said in a statement. “The success of this mission paves the way for our second generation of servicing satellites and robotics, offering flexibility and resiliency for both commercial and government satellite operators, which can enable entirely new classes of missions.”