On-orbit refueling? Curb your enthusiasm.

Posted: March 18, 2011 in Songs of Space and Nuclear War
Tags: , , ,

From Space News comes the space-refueling-is-not-being-well-received fallout you might expect.

The world’s principal commercial satellite manufacturers on March 15 unanimously dismissed a proposed satellite in-orbit service project backed by Intelsat and Canada’s MDA…

MDA being not the Missile Defense Agency but being MacDonald Dettwiler and Associates.

… (officials) said that while there appears to be no technical obstacle to robotically refueling satellites or performing minor repairs, closing the business case appears next to impossible without heavy government backing.

Again, how do you make money in, to, through, or from space?  The leading way is to sell a government a space-service or hardware.

Intelsat has contracted with Richmond, British Columbia-based MDA to purchase 1,000 kilograms of fuel to extend the lives of several Intelsat satellites by between three and five years each. Intelsat has agreed to pay $280 million for the service assuming that all the ordered fuel is successfully transferred to aging Intelsat satellites.

“Assuming that all the ordered fuel is successfully transferred” is a mighty big assumption.

And there has to be taxpayer government funding baked into this scheme somewhere.

Adding 20 percent or more to the life of a telecommunications satellite was unlikely to win applause from satellite makers in any event, and it found little support among them here.

“Above all this will be a field day for lawyers,” said Steven O’Neill, president of Boeing Satellite Systems International of El Segundo, Calif., referring to regulatory issue involved in moving satellites in geostationary orbit, and the possible insurance issues involved in docking with a satellite.

Send lawyers, guns, and monomethylhydrazine.

  1. […] of refueling on-orbit satellites.  They give a balanced assessment regarding it’s potential (unlike those who thinks it lacks a not-taxpayer-funded future).  […]

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