Northrop Subsidiary Docks Mission-Extension Spacecraft to Intelsat Telecom Satellite

Northrop Grumman’s SpaceLogistics subsidiary has docked its satellite-servicing spacecraft onto Intelsat’s telecommunications satellite as part of an effort to extend the latter’s lifespan by five years.

Intelsat said Wednesday the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 latched onto the Intelsat 901 satellite in geosynchronous orbit on Feb. 25 at  2:15 a.m. ET.

MEV-1 completed its 180-mile journey after its launch in October. IS-901, decommissioned in December, will undergo on-orbit checkouts with MEV-1 before the latter returns the telecom satellite to service in April.

According to Intelsat, the recent docking serves as the first time a satellite will undergo mission extension services as well as the first instance of two commercial satellites docking in orbit.

“Together, Northrop Grumman, SpaceLogistics LLC and Intelsat have taken the first step in pioneering in-space logistics services for both commercial and government customers,” said Tom Wilson, president of SpaceLogistics.

Northrop seeks to establish a fleet of MEV vehicles that will work to extend the mission life of spacecraft by over 15 years.

The company plans to send a second MEV platform to support another Intelsat satellite later this year.

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