Orbital ATK Begins assembly of commercial in-space satellite servicing system

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Orbital ATK's MEV-1 spacecraft is scheduled to launch next year. (Photo: Business Wire)

Dulles-based Orbital ATK is on track to launch a new spacecraft next year designed to service and extend the lives of satellites, the company said Monday.

The company says the Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) will provide satellite life extension services to its anchor customer, Intelsat S.A., beginning in early 2019.

“The start of assembly of MEV-1 means that in-orbit satellite servicing will soon become a reality,” Tom Wilson, president of Orbital’s subsidiary, Space Logistics LLC, said in a statement. “MEV-1 will be the first spacecraft of its kind to offer this innovative service.”

The MEV-1 uses a docking system that attaches to existing features on a customer’s satellite and provides life-extending services. MEV-1 will launch as a co-passenger with the Eutelsat 5WB satellite, also built by Orbital ATK.

Orbital ATK’s goal is to establish a fleet of in-orbit servicing vehicles that can provide repair, assembly, refueling and in-space transportation services. The company also is working with the U.S. government to develop technologies to support these life-extension services such as advanced robotics and high-power solar-electric propulsion.

Orbital ATK designs, builds and delivers space, defense and aviation systems. Its main products include launch vehicles; missile products, precision weapons and satellites. The company employs approximately 13,000 people in the U.S. and abroad.

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