Intelsat, a leading provider of integrated satellite and terrestrial networks and inflight connectivity, has partnered with Northrop Grumman Corporation's SpaceLogistics to extend the life of one of its satellites and provide uninterrupted services to its customers. The satellite operator has ordered a Mission Extension Pod (MEP) that will be installed by SpaceLogistics' mission robotic vehicle (MRV) on an Intelsat satellite operating in geosynchronous orbit.
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Continuity of Satellite Service
The MEP "jet pack" will ensure the continuity of satellite service for at least six years, starting in 2026. However, Intelsat has not identified which satellite will be serviced. According to the statement by the company, the MEP and MRV have both completed critical design reviews and are currently in assembly and testing. They are expected to be launched soon.
Intelsat's Chief Technology Officer has stated that the company is committed to safe and sustainable stewardship of space. He added that Intelsat had successfully led the industry four years ago with the first in-orbit servicing of satellites in cooperation with Northrop Grumman. The MEP will further ensure that Intelsat provides the most reliable service to its customers.
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Space Sustainability Measures
The recent purchase of the MEP continues Intelsat's legacy of space sustainability, which it first instituted in 2020. At that time, SpaceLogistics' Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) performed the first-ever in-orbit commercial spacecraft docking with Intelsat 901 (IS-901), extending its life for another five years. In 2021, a second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-2) began providing similar life-extension services for Intelsat 10-02.
The collaboration between Intelsat and SpaceLogistics highlights the need for innovative solutions to extend the life of satellites and ensure uninterrupted services to customers. As the demand for satellite connectivity increases, it is essential that satellite operators consider sustainable options to ensure that they provide reliable and continuous services.