“a spacecraft has returned an aging satellite to service” Ars Technica

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"This satellite servicing milestone comes as both low-Earth orbit as well as geostationary space—where large, expensive communications satellites are often placed high above the planet to hold their position over the ground—are becoming more crowded. The availability of a service such as that offered by MEV-1 offers satellite providers both the ability to extend the lifetime of aging assets, but also to potentially remove those they have lost control of from the ground.

These kinds of services are generally seen in the space community as important to keeping orbit as decluttered as possible in the coming decades, so it is good that this demonstration case worked out well."  ars technica


So, we have the possibility that satellite "repair trucks" can "fix" thingies in orbit, very expensive thingies to extend their working lifespan.  

Well, pilgrims, this is revolutionary technology.  By the time this particular commo satellite is ready for a "graveyard orbit," it may be possible for yet another "repair truck" to upgrade it to yet further extend its usefulness, etc.  Wow.  PL


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2 Responses to “a spacecraft has returned an aging satellite to service” Ars Technica

  1. ambrit says:

    As an example of this policy in action, one need not look further than the US Air Force’s B-52 bomber fleet. These airframes have been flying, and long hours, for over sixty years now.
    I personally haven’t bought an automobile that I couldn’t work on myself. Both of our vehicles are twenty or more years old and still running strong. I learned this lesson helping Dad work on his old Chevy II back when I was young.
    Planned obsolescence is bad enough when encountered on personal items. To do something like that with very expensive machinery that are more or less National Security items would be criminal. Right to repair in space!
    Next up I would expect to see a scavenger satellite service. Grab the worn out units and send them to Lunar orbit, not only for spare parts, but also as repositories of historical value for future historians. Just burning these units up in the Earth’s atmosphere would be such a waste.

  2. To continue the car analogy, this is a tow truck, not a repair truck. It has grabbed onto the satellite and will tow it around as needed for the next 5 years. It’s a huge step forward from just abandoning the satellite because it ran out of fuel.
    This particular satellite was operating just fine, but was about to run out of fuel. They moved it to a safe long term parking orbit, much like you would park a car safely out of traffic when it’s running out of gas.
    The next step is to add pipes and connectors to the communications satellites so that a service truck can bring another load of fuel to a satellite. It’s hard to refuel a satellite when it has a fuel tank that is welded shut. They need to design in a fuel port for refueling. Refueling ports will enable one service truck to refuel multiple satellites at more frequent intervals. All the older satellites still in orbit will need tow trucks.
    Real significant repair changes will take even more time. The current and older generations of satellites are not designed with replaceable parts.

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