Orbit Fab, the Gas Stations in Space™ company, and Dawn Aerospace, a space-transportation company, are collaborating to make on-orbit refueling available to satellites using nitrous oxide and propylene (N2O and C3H6).
Orbit Fab, offering a refueling service in space, developed a port known as RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) that is being offered to government and commercial satellites and was recently made available under an open license. RAFTI fueling ports will be an option for Dawn customers from mid-2022.
Dawn provides in-space propulsion systems to customers globally using a unique combination of green propellants. Nitrous oxide and propylene are available from domestic industrial gas suppliers and are not subject to complex export controls. Having proven this technology on-orbit for cubesats and small satellites, Dawn propulsion systems have now flown on Vega, Falcon 9, and Soyuz launch vehicles. The company recently announced more than 100 thrusters are in production for a series of commercial satellites.
A materials study to demonstrate the compatibility of Dawn propellants and the RAFTI ports has been completed and qualification is in progress.
Dawn also recently announced the company had joined Orbit Fab as a member of CONFERS (The Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations), an industry-led initiative that aims to leverage best practices to form technical and operational standards for rendezvous and proximity operations, and on-orbit servicing.
“We know that prolonging the life of satellites is key in growing the space industry sustainably – both environmentally and economically,” said Jeroen Wink, Dawn CRO.”In geostationary orbits, refueling can extend a satellite’s operational life by years, where each additional year is worth upward of $50 million additional revenue. We see this partnership with Orbit Fab as part of Dawn’s broader commitment to growing on-orbit capability and infrastructure.”
“For a bustling in-space economy, we need to provide the right fuel in orbit to support all missions,” said Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab CEO. “This partnership is important for us as the propellant combination that Dawn has pioneered has significant advantages for certain mission profiles.”