Satellite fuel company Orbit Fab signs Impulse to build part of its fuel depot

The satellite fuel company Orbit Fab, which is offering a way for satellites to get refueled on a regular basis based on a firm price schedule, has selected the orbital tug company Impulse to build part of its fuel depot in advance of a demonstration refueling mission for the Space Force.

The Space Force last year awarded Orion Space Solutions a $50 million contract for the Tetra-5 experiment. Three satellites will be stationed in geostationary orbit (GEO) where Impulse Space’s Mira orbital service vehicle will serve as a hosting platform for Orbit Fab’s fuel depot. “This demonstration will pave the way for future commercial orbital refueling services, as well as additional collaborative opportunities and missions between Orbit Fab and Impulse Space,” said Barry Matsumori, chief operating officer of Impulse Space.

The Tetra-5 satellites and the fuel depot will use Orbit Fab’s refueling port known as RAFTI, or Rapidly Attachable Fuel Transfer Interface. Impulse Space will provide hosting services such as power, communications, attitude control and propulsion for the fuel depot. The Tetra spacecraft will rendezvous and dock with the depot.

If successful, this mission will prove the viability of this refueling system, and encourage other satellite manufacturers to include RAFTI on their satellites.