Benchmark Space Systems has announced an in-space mobility service that virtually eliminates upfront propulsion equipment costs and boosts on-orbit, servicing, assembly and manufacturing (OSAM) mission revenues by allowing satellite operators and service providers to pay as they go for in-space transport.
SCOUT, an in-space inspection and situational awareness provider, and Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ firm, are the first to sign Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS) agreements with Benchmark. The companies will leverage the service to accelerate their strategic roadmaps and equip their spacecraft with managed non-toxic, high thrust systems, with a nominal deposit and deferred payments throughout mission operation based on propellant usage or ‘delta V’ akin to vehicle lease models and taxi services here on Earth.
Under these agreements, SCOUT and Orbit Fab will take advantage of Benchmark’s mobility-as-a-service offering to invest more upfront capital in their in-space infrastructure while paying for on-demand propulsion from operational revenues. SCOUT will integrate Benchmark Halcyon thrusters at little cost across its SCOUT-Vision fleet of 3D imaging and thermal sensor equipped inspection satellites. SCOUT will then pay for Benchmark mobility services to power its inspection vehicles through space to provide customers with a broad range of visual assessments, including satellite diagnostics, see and avoid maneuvers, docking approaches, and orbital real estate and regulatory reviews. Orbit Fab will, likewise, pay to have Benchmark’s mobility service maneuver its tankers into position to replenish spacecraft in need of a fill up.
Benchmark will debut the first Halcyon system equipped with Orbit Fab’s RAFTI refueling kit aboard the SpaceX Transporter 2 rideshare mission launch that is currently scheduled for Friday, June 25, aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. Benchmark Space Systems’ MaaS opens the door to OSAM innovation and can eliminate the challenge of choosing “right sized” propulsion systems to cover every imaginable mission scenario in space. A growing number of commercial and government customers have expressed strong interest in flexible pay-as-you-go programs and refueling capabilities that when combined can further drive ROI by optimizing operational effectiveness and dramatically increasing mission endurance. Benchmark’s taxi-like mobility service and innovations in mobile in-space refueling remove big hurdles for space companies like SCOUT and Orbit Fab by enabling them to quickly and effectively provide in-space services without concern over fuel capacity.
“Benchmark’s mobility-as-a-service breakthrough opens the door to new possibilities for everyone, from emerging startups to legacy operators, who can take advantage of an innovative economic solution to in-space mobility and logistics to get creative and evolve the business models for their constellations as a competitive edge,” said Chris Carella, Benchmark Space Systems EVP of Business Development & Strategy. “We are thrilled to sign our first mobility-as-a-service agreements with space inspection provider SCOUT and Gas Stations in Space company Orbit Fab. We recently partnered with Orbit Fab to launch mobile, hydrogen-peroxide-based in-space refueling kits, which make MaaS offerings a great fit for OSAM missions that can have indefinite impulse requirements.”
“As a startup, we are scrutinizing every dollar as we innovate and launch our SCOUT-Vision sensor solution to provide local situational awareness services in space beginning this year and ultimately rollout our on-orbit spacecraft inspection fleet to further support OSAM initiatives,” said Eric Ingram, SCOUT CEO. “Benchmark understands the financial and technical challenges facing next generation satellite ecosystems, and its mobility as a service offering allows us to integrate Halcyon thrusters at little upfront cost and defer mobility service payments until we’re generating cash flow.”
“Mobility-as-a-Service by Benchmark goes very well with on-orbit fuel delivery,” said Adam Harris, Vice President of Business Development at Orbit Fab. “Spacecraft of the future no longer need to worry about running out of fuel and can pass their positioning risk off to a mobility service provider. Knowing we can pay for mobility as we use it to meet our customer’s growing demand, is an innovative business model we like to support. Benchmark can get their customers where they need to go and Orbit Fab will keep those customer spacecraft fueled.”
Benchmark’s scalable, launch vehicle agnostic propulsion product and services suite supports a broad spectrum of spacecraft – from 1U CubeSats through ESPA-class (1-500kg) satellites, lunar landers, spent launcher stages, and orbital transfer vehicles (OTVs), offering far safer and faster rideshare options than electric propulsion (EP) systems, which can take months to complete their trips to orbit.