Orbit Fab seeks to be the gas station of space: in 2022 it will put a module with fuel tanks in orbit
One of the biggest limits when it comes to getting things into space is the large amount of fuel required both to leave Earth and afterwards. But what if you could refuel later and thus carry less weight from Earth? It is the idea that Orbit Fab has in mind, a refueling startup in space. And they prepare their “space gas station” to be launched in 2022.
Late 2022 or early 2023 NASA and SpaceX have a planned mission related to the lunar lander. This mission will be leveraged to bring more payloads into space, such as Orbit Fab’s “space gas station”. The company has taken the opportunity to announce that they have teamed up with SpaceX for this.
A gas station in geostationary orbit
The goal is to let Tanker-002, the name given to the artifact, in the geostationary orbit of the Earth. As they have expressed, it is where most of their clients are interested. The United States Department of Defense and other intelligence services stand out among his clients.
Previously Orbit Fab has already tested this idea launching its first module last july. It was more of a test launch to verify that everything works correctly in terms of pressure and other aspects. Weighing just 45 kilograms, the Tanker-002 is expected to climb almost 100 kilograms.
The Tanker-002 tanks will be filled with hydrazine, a type of fuel used by some rockets and spacecraft. The idea is to place the module with the fuel tanks “a few hundred kilometers from the geostationary belt so as not to crowd the orbit,” they said. The moment one of the customers needs fuel, the gas station moves to place itself in the same orbit, meet the customer and refuel.
When it comes to refueling, Orbit Fab has developed a port that allows ships and satellites to be easily attached to their tanks. This port is being shared with customers so that they can develop their ships and be compatible. This implies that they will not refuel satellites and ships that are already in space, only new models that arrive there and have previously reached agreements with Orbit Fab.
In the next few years we will see if the Orbit Fab idea is a success or just an interesting concept. The company promises to have several millionaire agreements already signed. And, if it works out well, it can be a great option to extend the useful life of satellites, which is currently done by coupling new propellants to them.
Via | SpaceNews
More information | Orbit Fab