In A First, Commercial Satellites Dock Mid-Space For Servicing Mission

The Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1), which can be termed as a space tow-truck of sorts, docked with the Intelsat 901 on February 25.

In A First, Commercial Satellites Dock Mid-Space For Servicing Mission

View of IS-901 Satellite From MEV-1's "far hold" position during approach.

Washington D.C.:

In a first, two commercial satellites pulled off the impressive manoeuvre of docking with each other, where one of them would service the other.

According to The Verge, if successful, the mission would enable the Intelsat 901, to continue its job for five more years.

The daring effort can usher a whole new industry to refurbish ailing satellites, consequently reducing the amount of space junk clogging the Earth's orbit.

A vice president at Space Logistics, Joe Anderson, told in a press conference that "this is the first time in history, a docking has ever been performed with a satellite that was not pre-designed with docking in mind."

"This is the first time two commercial satellites have ever docked," he further said.

Space Logistics happens to be a subsidiary of the aerospace giant Northrop Grumman and is responsible for executing the mission.

The Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1), which can be termed as a space tow-truck of sorts, docked with the Intelsat 901 on February 25.

The Intelsat 901 is low on fuel after spending 19 years in orbit and when it finally runs out of juice, the ground crew would lose the ability to actively control it.

Therefore, to buy some more time for the space-craft, Intelsat joined hands with Northrop Grumman for a life extension mission.

The MEV-1 was shot in space in October 2019 and took three months to carry out a rendezvous with the Intelsat 901 in the graveyard orbit.

The graveyard orbit, as the name suggests, is the orbit where defunct spacecraft are abandoned.

As the two have now been docked, the MEV-1 will take over the manoeuvring and navigation from the Intelsat 901, The Verge reported.

If things go as planned, the MEV-1 will tow its buddy out of the graveyard orbit so that it can operate for five more years.

Once the five years are complete, MEV-1 will play the grim-reaper and place the Intelsat 901 back to the graveyard orbit where it''ll be finally laid to rest.

After doing its job, MEV-1 could potentially be assigned the task of servicing some other satellite that might require help. 

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)

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