Skycorp has signed a letter of intent with an undisclosed satellite operator for on-orbit servicing designed to extend the life of spacecraft , CEO Dennis Wingo announced at the NewSpace 2013 conference last week.
Wingo also announced the Skycorp Spacecraft Life Extension System (SLES), a servicing spacecraft designed to extend the life of a geosynchronous satellite by 10 years for one-third the cost of building and launching a replacement.
The letter of intent is a major milestone in Wingo’s more than decade-long quest to develop a satellite servicing system. In March 2002. Wingo teamed with telecom mogul Walt Anderson and telecom professional Philip Braden to found Orbital Recovery. The European-based company began working in partnership with the European Space Agency and the German space agency DLR to develop technology.
That effort was short circuited on the very day that Orbital Recovery signed up its first customer when the U.S. government arrested Anderson on tax evasion charges. Anderson spent more than eight years in prison before his release in 2012.
Wingo said the satellite servicing business has had a chicken-or-the-egg problem over the years. Satellite operators won’t pay to have their spacecraft modified for servicing until a servicing system is operational. However, servicing companies need customers to sign up.