A Northrop Grumman robotic servicing spacecraft has hooked up with an aging Intelsat communications satellite more than 22,000 miles over the Pacific Ocean, accomplishing the first link-up between two commercial satellites in space, and the first docking with a satellite that was never designed to receive a visitor.
A Proton booster rocketed away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazaskhtan Wednesday with a Eutelsat television broadcasting craft and the satellite industry’s first commercial in-space servicing vehicle. The successful launch marked the first commercial Proton mission under the auspices of International Launch Services in more than two years.
A Russian Proton rocket lifted off at 1017 GMT (6:17 a.m. EDT) Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodorme in Kazakhstan. After a marathon 16-hour-long launch sequence, the Proton and its Breeze M upper stage will deploy the Eutelsat 5 West B video broadcast satellite and a robotic satellite servicing payload aiming to attempt the first-ever docking in geosynchronous orbit.
Joe Anderson, vice president of business development and operations at Space Logistics LLC, recently discussed the company’s first Mission Extension Vehicle in an interview with Spaceflight Now. The first Mission Extension Vehicle is launching on the first commercial satellite servicing mission to dock with an Intelsat communications craft in geostationary orbit.
NASA plans to shelve a robotic demonstration mission to refuel an aging Landsat Earth-imaging observatory and join forces with the private sector and a U.S. military research and development agency in a public-private partnership to commercialize satellite servicing technologies, according to language in the White House’s budget request released Tuesday.