Northrop Grumman’s subsidiary SpaceLogistics selected SpaceX to launch the first Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV), the company's next-generation product designed to service customer's satellites in orbit, including repair and augment its capabilities by installing applications like Mission Extension Pods (MEPs). “Under the launch agreement, SpaceX will provide launch services for a planned spring 2024 launch of the MRV and several MEPs,” wrote Northrop Grumman representatives in a press release this week. The MRV will likely launch atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket.
The mission will mark the first time an advanced robot spacecraft is deployed to perform satellite maintenance tasks in geostationary orbit at an altitude of over 22,236 miles. MRV is equipped with a robotic arm that will be able to ‘fix’ and add new components to satellites while actively orbiting the Earth. Satellites and spacecraft operating in geostationary orbit circle the entire planet around every 24 hours at a speed of approximately 7,000 miles per hour. In 2020, SpaceLogistics demonstrated its MRV is capable of docking with other space vehicles at high speeds.
During the 2024 MRV deployment, SpaceLogistics plans to demonstrate how its robotic vehicle can install the Mission Extension Pods (MEPs) on commercial satellites with its robotic arms. The MEP is a propulsion device that can extend the life of satellites by up to 6 years. Northrop Grumman SpaceLogistics division designed the device that is offered to customers to enable them to control the satellites’ with the new propulsion system before their source of fuel runs out.
In the same press release that announced the contract with SpaceX, Northrop Grumman announced –“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 company shared. “Our contracts with SpaceX and Optus are tangible evidence of our momentum and commitment to deliver second-generation on-orbit servicing technologies to the satellite industry,” stated Vice President of Business Development for SpaceLogistics Joseph Anderson. “We are thrilled to have Optus as our premier MEP customer as we continue pioneering the future of space and expanding the realm of what is possible with on-orbit servicing and sustainment.”
“Optus’ partnership with SpaceLogistics will leverage their cutting edge MRV & MEP capability to increase the life of Optus’ D3 satellite. This innovative move along with the future launch of Optus 11 will benefit our customers.” Said Ben White, managing director, wholesale, satellite and strategy at Optus.
VIDEO: Northrop Grumman SpaceLogistics Next-generation Satellite Servicing
Featured Images Source: Northrop Grumman
About the Author
Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.