A spaceflight company claims it will build and launch specially designed spacecraft with the ability to refuel and repair orbiting commercial satellites to extend their useful lives.
The ViviSat company plans to launch at least two (and up to 10) Mission Extension Vehicles that will dock with aging satellites that are in geosynchronous orbit around the Earth and, in so doing, serve as a space handyman/mechanic and gas station.
Space.Com explains that giving satellites a tune-up makes a lot of sense:
“Currently, when communications satellites and other Earth-orbiting spacecraft run out of fuel, they are either sent up into a graveyard-like parking orbit, or de-orbited to destruct in Earth’s atmosphere — or worse, left where they are to become space junk, posing a risk to living satellites. Yet aside from running out of fuel, the spacecraft are often still functioning.”
ViviSat CEO Bryan McGuirk claims the venture could provide up to 10 years additional service to a satellite and “could also redeploy spacecraft, or position them in new orbits.”
There are about 450 geostationary satellites orbiting our planet at the present time.
The ViviSat website outlines the services that the company plans offer its space clients:
- Rendezvous and docking without interruption to operations of the client satellite
- Long-term station-keeping and attitude control
- Relocation of satellites to different orbital slots or to different orbits
- De-orbiting satellites that are at the end of their lives
- Rescue and re-orbiting of satellites stranded in incorrect orbits
Do you think an orbital repair droid for communications satellites is a viable concept or is it just “pie in the sky”?
Watch a video about the Mission Extension Vehicles proposed by ViviSat:
[Image credit: ViviSat]