Mission Extension Vehicle Successful!

by Patrick Gannon

MEV-1 Saves IS-901 from Graveyard

May 08, 2020

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A quick update on the MEV-1 (Mission Extension Vehicle) which successfully docked with the fuel-depleted Intelsat IS-901 satellite on February 25, 2020… See: MEV-1 Delivers New Lease on Life.

The satellite had run out of fuel, but was otherwise operational. In the past, the only option was to kick GEO (Geosynchronous Earth Orbit) satellites into a graveyard orbit when the fuel is used up. MEV-1 docked with the starving satellite and operating as sort of a powered backpack, used its own fuel and propulsion system to put the satellite back into operational orbit in order to provide it with five years of extended life, which saved the cost of having to design, manufacture and launch a replacement satellite.

Northrop Grumman and Intelsat announced that as of April 17, 2020, IS-901 has been restored to service and is once again providing internet connectivity. This is a big success story for the emerging industry of in-orbit servicing.

Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle 1 (MEV-1) captured this view of its target, the Intelsat 901 communications satellite, from a distance of 20 meters during docking operations on Feb. 25, 2020. Earth is visible in the background. (Image: © Northrop Grumman)

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