Stock Price: 132.29 +0.00 3/23/2018 4:02 PM ET

Stock Price: 132.29 +0.00 3/23/2018 4:02 PM ET
MEV-1: The Future of Satellite Servicing


A satellite’s life, whether it is designed to be five, 10 or even 15 years, depends largely on the amount of fuel it can carry. Once the fuel runs out, no matter how well the spacecraft’s other systems are performing, the satellite’s mission is over.

But what if a spacecraft could dock with a satellite that is low on fuel but is otherwise functioning well, and extend its useful life by providing propulsion and attitude control functions? The industry’s first on-orbit satellite servicing system, Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) is intended to do just that.

Orbital ATK's MEV-1 spacecraft will extend the lives of satellites and is scheduled to launch next year.

Managed through the company’s wholly-owned subsidiary Space Logistics LLC, MEV is the industry’s first in-orbit satellite servicing system, providing affordable life extension services to virtually any satellite in geosynchronous orbit (typically communications satellites that provide broadband Internet, satellite television and weather forecasting). MEV will allow operators to significantly extend an existing satellite’s lifetime potentially saving millions of dollars.

The first of these spacecraft, MEV-1 completed its critical design review earlier this year, and is now in production at Orbital ATK’s Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Dulles, Virginia.

“The start of assembly of MEV-1 means that in-orbit satellite servicing will soon become a reality,” said Tom Wilson, President of Space Logistics. “MEV-1 will be the first spacecraft of its kind to offer this innovative service. This is just the first step toward introducing even more advanced space logistics capabilities in the future.”

The MEV core structure is in production at Orbital ATK’s Spacecraft Components Division facility in San Diego, California.

The spacecraft is expected to begin testing next spring, with launch scheduled for late 2018. MEV-1 will provide satellite life extension services to its first customer, Intelsat S.A., beginning in early 2019.

"Intelsat has a strong track record of incorporating innovative satellite technologies into its global operations, and MEV-1 will further those efforts," said Ken Lee, Intelsat's Senior Vice President of Space Systems. "In-orbit servicing will enhance our flexibility, responsiveness to market opportunities and provide additional robustness to our global fleet. With Orbital ATK, we have the right approach and a partner that fully understands the needs of our customers."

Today, Orbital ATK is testing the spacecraft’s tracking, approach and docking systems at its state-of-the-art Rendezvous, Proximity Operations and Docking (RPOD) laboratory in Virginia. These systems provide the spacecraft with the necessary functions to successfully navigate to and dock with the intended satellite. Learn more about MEV and its capabilities here.

Engineers simulate the MEV-1 rendezvous and docking at Orbital ATK’s RPOD laboratory in Dulles, Virginia.