SES and MDA announce first satellite life extension agreement
Luxembourg-based SES and MDA announced on June 28 an agreement for an initial satellite life extension mission using an on-orbit refuelling vehicle being built by SSL, a US-based subsidiary of MDA.
SES will be the first commercial customer to benefit from the satellite refuelling service, and will be able to activate the service whenever required with minimal disruption to spacecraft operation. The agreement also includes an option for further life extension missions.
SES will work with a new venture, Space Infrastructure Services (SIS), which will commercialise sophisticated satellite servicing capabilities. SIS has contracted SSL to design and build the highly-capable satellite servicing spacecraft vehicle to meet the needs of the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, which is designed to inspect, repair, relocate and augment geosynchronous satellites and plans to include a refuelling payload to extend the life of satellites that are low on propellant.
“Satellite in-orbit servicing is of upmost importance to next-generation architectures for communications satellites. It enables satellite operators like us to have more flexibility in managing our fleet and meeting our customers’ demands,” said Martin Halliwell, chief technology officer at SES. “After witnessing the due diligence of SSL’s and MDA’s technical expertise, we are confident that its new venture is the best partner in the refuelling mission field, and will be able to help SES get more value out of an on-orbit satellite.”
“As a pioneer in next-generation fleet capabilities, SES is clearly committed to improving the space and satellite ecosystem,” said Howard Lance, president and CEO at MDA. “We are very pleased to have this refuelling contract with SES and are excited to provide them with more options in fleet management.”
The satellite servicing spacecraft vehicle is planned for launch in 2021.