On Monday (April 12), Northrop Grumman announced that their satellite refueling spacecraft, called Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2), successfully docked to the commercial communications satellite Intelsat 10-02.
MEV-2 is a robotic spacecraft designed to attach itself to aging satellites to help extend their operations in orbit. It launched on Aug. 15, 2020 , on an Ariane 5 rocket.
The docking of MEV-2 to this Intelsat satellite Monday “was every bit as exciting and successful” Joe Anderson, the director of Mission Extension Vehicle services said.
The spacecraft will stay in orbit attached to IS-10-02 for five years, helping the satellite to continue being alive. At the end of this five-year contract, the craft will jet off to another satellite and dock. Both MEV-1 and MEV-2 are capable of working with multiple satellites in their lifetimes, Anderson said.
If spacecraft refueling/extending satellites could be produced more frequently. Every time a spacecraft runs out of fuel, electricity, or the spacecraft has a broken instrument, instead of wasting all that money building a new one, a cheaper solution – that is, the refueling mission – could be used.