Orbit Fab has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to advance on-orbit refueling technology.
Orbit Fab, a San Francisco start-up led by, Daniel Faber, is gearing up to establish the first Gas Station in Space.
In an agreement with Spaceflight Inc., Orbit Fab will send its first micro-satellite aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 in June of 2021.
“We’re building the world’s first operational satellite fuel depot,” Faber said. “This helps us solve the chicken and egg problem. No one is buying fuel in orbit because no one is selling it. We built an egg.”
According to Faber, Tanker-001 Tenzing will carry a green propellant to refuel other spacecraft in sun synchronous orbit. “We are putting inventory into orbit as a demonstration and a signal of our commitment to take different fuels to different orbits,” Faber said.
Earlier this year, Orbit Fab won a $3 Million US Air Force contract to flight qualify their Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface, also known as the RAFTI.
Jeremy Schiel, Orbit Fab’s Chief Development Officer said in a statement, “Orbit Fab’s RAFTI supports the Air Force and Space Force need for space combat logistics capabilities (On-Orbit Servicing), which enables space domain awareness… Refueling is a requirement in the emerging Space Force architecture and for good reason. You don’t want to run out of fuel in the middle of a confrontation.”
Orbit Fab’s vision has the ability to change the landscape of what we think is possible through satellites. Extending life-spans and preventing the build up of retired units.
These revolutionary fuel depots are designed to focus on sustainability of spacecraft. They’ll use a technology that transfers propellant “with a self-driving satellite kit for docking and attachment of two spacecraft without the need for complex robotic arms”.
Orbit Fab says they plan to provide an ever-present supply of propellant in orbit around Earth, to continue to increase the operational potential of new and existing space assets. In a statement, they said, “In the future, valuable satellites will no longer be sent to the graveyard when they run out of fuel.”
The first Gas Station in Space. Quite a story!
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