The start-up Orbit Fab has just announced that it will commission a prototype of its space service station in orbit around the Earth by 2025. In a statement made to the specialized site Space.com, the young pousse unveils its development plan.
The company, founded in 2018, aims to extend the life of satellites, and indirectly, to reduce the amount of waste present in space. But launching a gas station hundreds of miles above the Earth comes at a cost: $20 million to be exact.
A gas station in space?
With this money, the company announces that it is able to launch its service station of the future into orbit, with 100 kilograms of space fuel, hydrazine, on board. Commonly used around the Earth by satellites, hydrazine is today the number 1 solution to keep a piece of metal in orbit around our planet.
For Adam Harris, the company’s vice president of development, the offer does not yet exist and this announcement is intended to create a new market. Present only in geostationary orbit (36,000 kilometers from Earth), the Orbit Fab charging station could be used by all surrounding satellites.
According to Jeremy Schiel, co-founder of the company, the construction of the fuel depot of the “gas station” is almost complete. But the company hopes to be able to set up a small shuttle, capable of joining the satellite wanting to refuel. With this shuttle, the young company is aiming for low orbit, which is the most populated.
Located a few hundred kilometers above the Earth, low orbit is filled with satellites, whether for communication, internet access with the Starlink constellation or even astronaut training with the ISS which is located in this area.
A boon for New Space?
This orbit is very busy and companies launching satellites there want to maximize their presence. Both by equipping themselves with the latest sensors and cameras and by bringing as much fuel as possible. Having a service station in space is therefore a godsend for them who could leave “lighter”.
As a reminder, going into space is above all a question of money and the laws of physics mean that the heavier an object, the more fuel it needs to fly away. But these same laws of gravitation explain that the more a satellite is loaded with fuel, the heavier it is.
Having a gas station in space could make it possible to leave empty, or almost, and save hundreds of thousands of euros on launch costs.