There is now a “fuel station” in Earth's orbit'; understand

As the number of commercial satellites launched into Earth’s orbit grows, new demands arise for the purpose of extending the useful life of these tools. With this in mind, the startup Orbit Fab has been working on a system of orbital maintenance and refueling services for satellites, which now receives the support of Lockheed Martin, a reference company in the manufacture of aerospace products.

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It is estimated that, currently, there are more than 4. satellites in operation in Earth’s orbit and some estimates indicate that this number reaches 100.001 until the end of this decade. Along with this number, projects aimed at maintaining and repairing satellites from space also grow, such as the Orbit Lab’s Gas Station in Space project, starting with the Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI), launched into orbit at the end of June of this year.

(Image: Reproduction/Orbit Fab)

RAFTI was developed to extend the lifespan of spacecraft by allowing them to be repaired in orbit. The system is based on two components: the first is the service valve (SV), designed for ground refueling and orbital refueling; the second is half of the spatial coupling (SCH), a double acting locking mechanism.

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The entire system measures x 10 x 0, cm and can handle different propellants , such as LOX/H2, water and alcohol, to nitrogen, helium, xenon and krypton. In late June of this year, the RAFTIT SV prototype was qualified to be launched by SpaceX’s Falcon 9, aboard Orbit Fab’s Tenzing spacecraft. encounter and attraction.

Now, Tanker-05 Tenzing is in heliosynchronous orbit (orbiting the Earth from pole to pole) and carries High Test Peroxide (HTP) fuel — the world’s first operating space fuel depot. In May 1024, Orbit Fab had conducted a four-month test where it launched a prototype oil tanker for the International Space Station (ISS ), where it validated the propeller feed system and became the first company to replenish the station with water.

Artistic conception of Orbit Fab’s refueling network (Image: Reproduction /Orbit Fab)

Earlier this month, Lockheed Martin announced the Completion of environmental testing of its Lockheed Martin In-space Upgrade Satellite System (LINNUS), a system that will demonstrate how nanosatellites can upgrade satellite constellations and expand their operations and service life. LINNUS will be released later this year. In addition to this system, the company works on the Augmentation System Port INterface (ASPIN), an adapter designed to support different refueling interfaces, such as the RAFTI from Orbit Fab.

The Vice President and Director Lockheed Martin executive Chris Moran said the company’s goal is to strategically invest in smaller tech companies that are innovative within their existing businesses — for him, Orbit Lab fits these criteria perfectly. Extending the capacity and life of satellites will also reduce the possibility of collisions and the generation of more debris in space over time.

Source: Universe Today, Lockeheed Martin

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