Orbit Fab Plans To Build Gas Station In Space; Will It Curb Space Junk?

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Orbit Fab, a space infrastructure startup, has ambitious plans of building a gas station for spacecraft in geostationary orbit. The company recently announced that it plans to kick off refueling services in geostationary orbit by 2025, according to SpaceNews.

 
Orbit Fab To Build Gas Station In Space; Will It Curb Space Junk?
Photo Credit: Orbit Fab

The idea behind launching a refueling station in space is to enable spacecraft and satellites to spend more time in space, extending their life cycle and eventually curbing the problem of space junk that inactive satellites and spacecraft leave behind.

How Much Will The Refueling Cost?

While the concept of reducing space junk is impressive, what would it cost for a satellite to refuel? Well, it will cost around $20 million to fill 220 pounds of hydrazine fuel, a propellant mostly used for geostationary satellites. As of now, the company wants to establish norms.

"There hasn’t been certainty in the market about what it would cost to do a refueling and so that’s what we’re hoping to provide with this announcement," Orbit Fab vice president of business development, Adam Harris told SpaceNews.

A Gas Station In Space

To refill satellites in orbit, Orbit Fab is looking to shuttle propellant to a special depot orbiting our planet 186 miles above the geostationary orbit. This space gas station will let spacecraft dock and perform a “self service” refueling. Besides, the company’s other spacecraft can bring the fuel to satellites that are equipped with the proprietary Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface (RAFTI), SpaceNews reports.

Orbit Fab’s Jeremy Schiel told SpaceNews that the design of the gas station is “basically done.” The company is said to be working on the fuel shuttle that will be ferrying the fuel to the space outpost.

The company’s next step would be to expand its services to orbits below the geostationary. "We’re tackling the easy commercial price of [geostationary] first and then we’ll start working our way down," Schiel told SpaceNews.

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