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Northrop Grumman Launches First-Ever Robotic Servicing Mission

Northrop Grumman has built a satellite that can dock on the older spacecraft that is 22,000 Miles above Earth and expand its lifespan by making use of solar-electric thrusters. This new satellite that was launched on October 9, 2019, boarding Proton rocket from Kazakhstan will be the first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV 1) that will be attaching to an 18-eon Intelsat communications satellite by the beginning of next year. The Intelsat 901 satellite is low on fuel and thus, the MEV 1 spacecraft can help it propel using the solar thrusters. Space Logistics LLC, which is a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, built the satellite life extension service.

This first-ever commercial servicing mission will be taking place at the geostationary orbit that is nearly 36,000 Kilometers above the equator. MEV 1 will use its personal propulsion set-up to orbit near geostationary altitude and lower their orbital inclinations closer to the equator. The MEV basically focuses on its orbit-raising mission. The MEV 1 will take at least three to three-and-a-half months for accomplishing its orbit-raising mission and move it to the final orbit. The NEV is different from the other satellite servicing concepts as it concentrates on relocating, navigating, and pointing other spacecraft low on propellant by attaching to them. In reality, the servicer will not provide fuel to Intelsat’s satellites as it was never designed with the purpose of being docked with any object. However, the solar thrusters on the MEV can instead help the Intelsat’s satellites to be shifted to the other orbits before they end up in the graveyard.

On a similar note, Northrop Grumman has its second Mission Extension Vehicle being planned for a takeoff by the second quarter of 2020. This advanced version will, similarly, service a ripened Intelsat communications satellite in geostationary orbit. The MEV 2 spacecraft will be boarding an Ariane 5 rocket for its further work on Intelsat’s new Galaxy 30 communications satellite. One of the plus points is that the customers have the chance of buying MEV services on an annual basis.

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