The Proton launch, previously scheduled for September 30, 2019, was postponed after an issue was discovered during the electrical testing of the vehicle
FREMONT, CA: SpaceLogistics, subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, will launch the Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) 1, on a Proton rocket from Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The spacecraft platforms will be dual manifested on the Proton along with Northrop built Eutelsat 5 West B communications satellite.
The Proton launch, previously scheduled for September 30, 2019, was postponed after an issue was discovered during the electrical testing of the vehicle, as per details provided by launch services provider International Launch Services.
"I’ve been working on this for about a decade. Once launched, MEV-1 will use its electric propulsion system to go to geostationary orbit, a process that will take up to three and a half months. It will rendezvous there with the Intelsat 901, an 18-year-old satellite in an inclined geosynchronous orbit. The satellite will raise its orbit to a graveyard orbit a few hundred kilometers above GEO prior to MEV-1 arrival to avoid any interference with other satellites in GEO," said Joe Anderson, vice president of operations and business development at SpaceLogistics.
The MEV 1 is set to dock with the apogee motor nozzle on Intelsat 901, from whence it shall take over altitude control and orbit control. Followed by this, the MEV 1 will move Intelsat 901 into its new operational location in GEO over the Atlantic Ocean and will continue to remain attached to it for the next five years before moving the satellite into a graveyard orbit and undocking.
Once the MEV 1 completes these functions, it shall be redirected towards other missions where it can be of use. The spacecraft is built with a design lifespan of fifteen years, and a propellant that can survive well beyond that. SpaceLogisics is currently developing a second such vehicle, MEV 2, and also plans for the launch of additional servicing vehicles like Mission Extension Pods that can be attached to satellites by a separate vehicle.
While the emphasis on both MEV and other concepts has been on the technology to extend the lives or otherwise service satellites, a key aspect is the business case for such systems. “It’s not an innovation until you’ve converted it from an idea, from an invention, into an economic return,” Anderson said. “I’m not aware of any economic returns yet in this industry, but we are days away from that occurring.”