Intelsat (NYSE: I) has announced that, on February 25, Intelsat 901 returned to service following the successful docking with the first Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-1) from Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) and the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary, SpaceLogistics LLC – this is the first time that two commercial spacecraft have successfully docked in geostationary orbit.
Since the February rendezvous, MEV-1 has assumed navigation of the combined spacecraft stack reducing its inclination by 1.6° and relocating IS-901 to its new orbital location. Intelsat then transitioned roughly 30 of its commercial and government customers to the satellite on April 2. The transition of service took approximately six hours. IS-901 is now operating at the 332.5°E orbital slot and providing full service to Intelsat customers.
Intelsat views life-extension services, such as MEV technology, as a cost-effective and efficient way to minimize service disruptions, enhance the overall flexibility of its satellite fleet and better support the evolving needs of its customers.
Under the terms of the contract, Northrop Grumman and SpaceLogistics will provide five years of life extension services to IS-901 before returning the spacecraft to a final decommissioned orbit. MEV-1 will then be available to provide additional mission extension services for new clients including orbit raising, inclination corrections and inspections. Intelsat has already also contracted with Northrop Grumman for a second MEV (MEV-2) to service Intelsat 1002 satellite later this year.
Intelsat Chief Services Officer, Mike DeMarco, said with a focus on providing the best customer experience in the industry, Intelsat is proud to have pioneered this innovative first with Northrop Grumman.
The company sees increased demand for Intelsat connectivity services around the world, and preserving customers’ experience using innovative technology, such as MEV-1, is helping the firm to meet that need. Intelsat thanks Northrop Grumman, SpaceLogistics and the valued Intelsat customers, who put their trust in the company to successfully execute this historic mission. As commercial space-servicing technology progresses, Intelsat looks forward to pioneering new applications in support of customers’ continued success.
Tom Wilson, VP, Northrop Grumman Space Systems and President, SpaceLogistics, LLC, added that this partnership with Intelsat was critical to delivering this innovative satellite technology into operation. This historic event, highlighted by the first on-orbit rendezvous and docking of two commercial satellites and the subsequent repositioning of the two-spacecraft stack, demonstrates the business value that MEV offers to customers. Now that MEV-1 has successfully delivered on its mission to place the Intelsat 901 satellite back into operational service, the company will continue to pioneer the future of on-orbit servicing through the firm’s multi-year technology roadmap leading to additional services, such as inspection, assembly and repair.