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Space Machines clever in-orbit servicing scheme

December 11, 2023

Space Machines Company and Orbit Fab are joining forces to advance on-orbit servicing of satellites.

The partnership joins together innovative technologies, most notably the installation of Orbit Fab’s space fiducial alignment markers on Space Machines Company’s Orbital Servicing Vehicle, Optimus. These markers will act like QR Codes in space, allowing Space Machines Company to work collaboratively with an approaching vehicle by using the markers to provide valuable position and orientation data, ensuring safe and reliable on-orbit operations. Optimus will provide on-orbit transportation and other in-space services following its launch on a SpaceX Transporter-10 mission in early 2024.

The success and sustainability of Optimus’ launch will be supported by the attachment of the two fiducial markers developed by Orbit Fab. These fiducials, which are designed to support the safe and effective navigation and approach of Optimus, will demonstrate Orbit Fab’s ability to achieve safe navigation for the refuelling of spacecraft in-orbit.

This partnership will reach a significant milestone in 2024, with both companies scheduled to launch missions on board SpaceX Transporter rideshares. The mission of Space Machines Company and Orbit Fab is geared towards conducting a range of rendezvous and proximity operations maneuvers to validate and test the technologies of both companies. The cooperation between Space Machines Company, Orbit Fab, and SpaceX also represents a practical example of successful international collaboration.

Orbit Fab and Space Machines Company join forces to combine expertise as well as foster strategic national capabilities for Australia and the US and to champion their shared goals of driving improved space sustainability through reduced debris and an on-orbit circular economy. By partnering to undertake a suite of safe, secure, and sustainable proximity operations, Orbit Fab and Space Machines Company will play a pivotal role in defining this developing commercial technology to unlock on-orbit refueling, servicing, repair, and de-orbit innovation for the global space sector.

“This collaboration represents a significant milestone in the advancement of in-space servicing technologies. It is the first purely commercial partnership of its kind and will serve as a pioneering example of in-space validation of these ground-breaking technologies. By leveraging our respective strengths and expertise, Space Machines Company and Orbit Fab are setting a new standard for international collaboration in the space industry,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, Space Machines Company co-founder and CEO.

“Orbit Fab was founded to eliminate the single-use spacecraft paradigm through in-space refueling. Our collaborative work with Space Machines Company demonstrates cooperative docking alignment markers that support safe, sustainable space operations. We provide these spacecraft fiducials to support cooperative refuelling in space, but they can also be used to support any satellite servicing activities. By simply including a low-footprint fiducial marker, any company can make its assets serviceable, just as SMC has done,” added Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab CEO.

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