Northrop Signs Launch Agreement with SpaceX, First Mission Extension Pod Contract with Optus

  • Our Bureau
  • 04:17 AM, February 22, 2022
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Northrop Signs Launch Agreement with SpaceX, First Mission Extension Pod Contract with Optus
Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) uses robotics to attach Mission Extension Pods (MEP)

SpaceLogistics, a Northrop Grumman company, announced a launch agreement for its Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV) spacecraft, and the sale of its first Mission Extension Pod (MEP).

Under the launch agreement, SpaceX will provide launch services for a planned spring 2024 launch of the MRV and several MEPs. Optus, Australia’s largest satellite owner and operator, recently completed a purchase agreement with SpaceLogistics for installation of one of the MEPs on its D3 satellite in 2025.

The launch will mark the first time a robotic-capable spacecraft will ascend into space to provide persistent robotic servicing capabilities in geostationary orbit (GEO). The MRV will perform a series of on-orbit tests of its robotic-arm payload as it carries out its primary mission, installing MEPs on commercial satellites. The MEP, a small customer-owned, customer-controlled propulsion augmentation device, can provide six years of life extension for a typical 2,000 kg satellite in GEO.

SpaceLogistics’ first-generation Mission Extension Vehicles, MEV-1 and MEV-2, have provided propulsion and pointing control to commercial satellites in GEO since 2020. The sophisticated robotics of the next-generation MRV will expand the services SpaceLogistics currently offers to include augmentation, detailed robotic inspection, relocation and repair.

The MRV and MEP completed their respective preliminary design reviews in fall 2021 and remain on schedule for critical design reviews in 2022 and launch in 2024.

Optus provides satellite services to Australia and NZ Government departments, companies and broadcasters including Foxtel, ABC, SBS, Seven Network, and regional broadcasters such as Imparja Television, Sky New Zealand and Kordia, in addition to services in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica.

SpaceLogistics is the first and only company performing on-orbit servicing for commercial GEO satellites.

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