The long since thought of but yet to be commercialized in-orbit servicing industry is now closer to becoming a reality than ever before. ViviSat, a joint venture supported by Orbital ATK and US Space, has signed a pivotal customer for its Mission Extension Vehicles (MEVs), tipping the scale from buildup to actual implementation.
“We now have four MEV’s signed with clients. That puts us in a situation where we have the critical mass necessary for financing and to carry forward,” Bryan McGuirk, COO of ViviSat said during the “Spacecraft Repurposing Debate: Proponents and Skeptics Go Head-to-Head” panel at SATELLITE 2015.
As of the summer of 2014, ViviSat had three customers committed to in-orbit servicing using MEVs, with the driving rationale being to test out new orbital slots for future satellites. McGuirk said three of the four clients intend to use the MEVs to provide this service.
Now that a decisive number of customers has been reached, ViviSat plans to begin dual launching two MEVs at a time, with missions lasting five years at a time before the end of the decade. MEVs have a mission lifespan of approximately 16 years and sport longer antennas and arrays to better dock with spacecraft. The vehicles also use electric propulsion.
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