Orbit Fab, a San Francisco-based start up has received funding of 10 million dollars for placing refueling stations in Earth’s orbit. The astronauts will not have to reach the station for refueling but the station itself will reach the satellites to provide it with fuel.
The company had reportedly created the prototype of the refueling station in June this year. Reports on the new development pointed out the the Earth’s orbit is cluttered with new and old satellites. This is cause risks of collision between the spacecrafts leaving for mars, moon and other space outings. The pressing issue of increasing junk in the space is also affected by it. Orbit Fab’s refueling station can help in solving that problem.
The early prototype made by the start up is named Tenzing Tanker-001. It was launched into the orbit on June 30 as part of Space X‘s Transporter-2 rideshare mission.
The refueling station is reportedly as big as a microwave. It is currently placed in the Sun-synchronous orbit where weather and imaging satellites move around the earth.
The CEO of Orbit Fab, Daniel Faber had told SpaceNews in 2020, “We’re building the world’s first operational satellite fuel depot. This helps us solve the chicken and egg problem. No one is buying fuel in orbit because no one is selling it. We built an egg.” The prototype on the orbit reportedly is yet to have design elements so that it can actually fuel satellites.
Faber said that the company is putting inventory into the orbit as a demo and signal for their commitment to take different fuels to different orbits. The aim of Orbit fab to upgrade the existing satellites already existing orbit is expected to be a better approach than launching new satellites from Earth. It could significantly decrease the number of junk materials in the space.