[San Francisco, 24 September 2021] Already the leading supplier of refueling ports for satellites, Orbit Fab announced that it will soon be launching the first propellant tanker to geostationary orbit. The company’s second tanker will establish flight heritage on all the elements of the company’s tanker technology, which has been designed for the harshest orbital regimes and for refueling the largest space assets. This announcement comes on the heels of the company’s successful launch of the world’s first Gas Stations in SpaceTM propellant depot last June into a low Earth orbit.
CEO Daniel Faber commented “Our robust RAFTI [the Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface] system was designed to refuel large US Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and commercial assets in geostationary orbit, so commencing operations in this orbit will be an important milestone for us. This GEO tanker will have the capability to store propellant for up to 15 years, though of course we provide the fuel that satellites need, where and when they need it.”
Orbit Fab’s tanker gets to geostationary orbit aboard a Spaceflight Inc. Sherpa-ES orbital transfer vehicle (OTV), using a novel trajectory that takes it first around the back of the moon. Launching on a SpaceX rocket alongside Intuitive Machines’ IM-2 lunar lander, the mission is facilitated by the newly-formed GeoJump, which is offering rideshare missions to GEO in partnership with Spaceflight.
James Bultitude, Orbit Fab’s Chief Engineer, described the mission. “This is the first tanker in this orbit, and Spaceflight has come up with a new way to get us there efficiently. Hydrazine fuel will be available for delivery as soon as it arrives, though we intend to take some time to demonstrate our long-term storage technology. When it’s not making a fuel delivery, we will be parking our tanker a few hundred kilometers away from the geostationary belt so as not to clutter up the orbit.”
Orbit Fab has attracted significant financial support including US defense giants Lockheed Martin (through its venture arm Lockheed Martin Ventures) and Northrop Grumman Corporation, Japanese trading conglomerate Marubeni (through Marubeni Ventures), and leading satellite and launch insurer Munich Re (through Munich Re Ventures). The company recently announced that it is moving its headquarters to Colorado, supported by nearly $5M in economic incentives from the Colorado state government.