Photos prior to MEV-1 docking to Intelsat 901 satellite

Chronological Encyclopedia of Discoveries in Space cover

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Northrop Grumman has released photos taken by its Mission Extension Vehicle-1 (MEV-1) as it approached the decommissioned geosynchronous communications satellite Intelsat 901, just prior to docking.

As this was the first ever rendezvous and docking with a geosynchronous satellite, these are the first photos ever of such a spacecraft in that orbit. It was also the first docking with a spacecraft not designed for docking. MEV-1 managed it by using the satellite’s engine nozzle as a docking port.

Intelsat 901 has been in orbit for 18 years, and was only decommissioned because it had run out of fuel. From the pictures it looked solid and undamaged, ready to go again.



  • Edward

    Well, what do you know?

    I was working on another satellite at Space Systems/Loral when Intelsat 901 was being completed and was packed for shipment to the launch site. All this time I had thought that I had seen her for the last time, way back then, but here she is in photographs, looking good.

    Thank you for the links, Robert and wayne. Thanks, too, to anyone at Northrup Grumman who made MEV 1 possible.

  • I downloaded the image of the Earth behind Intelsat 901. I have seen that view many times in ‘artists conceptions’, but to see it real is very cool. Edward makes a salient point: we build good stuff.

  • sippin_bourbon

    One of the pics, with Earth in the background, is a great teaching tool.

    So the next time a someone asks “how high above the Earth do satellites orbit?”, show these pics.

  • wayne

    Good stuff!

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