Orbit Fab, an American company founded in 2018, is hoping to revolutionize the satellite industry by producing in-orbit “gas stations” that can refuel satellites, making them more sustainable and profitable. Satellites currently rely on limited fuel supplies to stay in position, but with the ability to refuel in orbit, they could be used for longer periods of time, reducing the cost of manufacturing and launching them.
Orbit Fab’s plan involves sending large tanks containing several tonnes of fuel into orbit and using smaller vessels to shuttle fuel between the tanks and satellites. Although the risks associated with operating such a system are high, the company has conducted numerous tests and is confident it will be safe.
The market for in-orbit refueling is set to grow, with up to 24,500 satellites scheduled for launch between 2022 and 2031. Orbit Fab is also looking at servicing satellites in other ways, including in-orbit “tow trucks” and agreements with other start-ups in the industry. The company has already secured a contract with the United States Space Force to deliver fuel in 2025 and plans to expand to private space stations and the Moon in the future.
By Impact Lab