Orbital-ATK wins 2nd ‘space tug’ order

Washington DC-based satellite builder Orbital-ATK has won a second order for one of its Mission Extension Vehicles (MEV).

Intelsat has ordered the second craft, often called ‘space tugs’ for their ability to rescue and service existing satellites in orbit. The order is a major commitment by Intelsat and indicates their confidence in the overall benefits of in-orbit rescue/refuelling.

“Intelsat was an early proponent of the potential for mission extension technology,” said Ken Lee, Intelsat’s SVP/Space Systems. “In-orbit life extension, such as that provided by our two contracts with Orbital ATK, provides additional flexibility to our fleet management, allowing us to direct capital to new satellites while continuing to generate economic value from satellites in orbit. We look forward to our continued collaboration with Orbital ATK on commercialising this important new service.”

Orbital ATK is already building MEV-1, the industry’s first commercial in-space satellite servicing system, for Intelsat with launch scheduled for late 2018. Under this new agreement, Orbital ATK will manufacture, test and launch MEV-2 and begin mission extension services in mid-2020. The production of the second MEV is part of Orbital ATK’s longer-range plan to establish a fleet of in-orbit servicing vehicles that can address diverse space logistics needs including repair, assembly, refuelling and in-space transportation.

“Work on MEV-1 is progressing rapidly toward a late 2018 launch with system-level testing beginning this spring,” said Tom Wilson, President of Orbital ATK’s Space Logistics, LLC subsidiary. “With the launch of MEV-2, Orbital ATK will continue to pioneer in-space satellite servicing for commercial operators. Intelsat’s commitment to a second MEV demonstrates not only the market demand for our servicing vehicles, but also the customer’s confidence in our product.”

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