In-orbit services poised to become big business
Servicing satellites in geosynchronous orbit is a “nascent industry” with significant future potential, said Carolyn Belle, senior analyst at the Cambridge, Massachusetts, research firm Northern Sky Research. Companies are weighing “service-or-replace trade-offs.” In an uncertain business climate, satellite manufacturers and operators are looking for new ways to manage their fleets, and might find life-extension services a compelling option.
NSR in January published the industry’s first study on the in-orbit servicing market.
Several types of services will be offered, the main one being life extension, Belle said. Service vehicles will dock with satellites for refueling and other station-keeping missions. “Various vehicles are in development, and each offers different capabilities,” said Belle. Life extension of GEO satellites will be the first serious opportunity for the servicing industry, based on the number of satellites that are reaching the end of life, both commercial and government.