Astroscale U.S. Inc. Awarded $25.5m In-space Refueling Contract25th Sep 2023
U.S. Space Systems Command has awarded $25.5 million to Astroscale in an attempt to help advance logistics and mobility capabilities. Crucially, the company is focusing on refuel services that will surely be key to the space industry going forward.
Game-changing refueling technology
Historically, satellites have been held back by their need to launch with a lifetime supply of fuel. This weighs the craft down and adds costs as well as bulk to the satellite. This hampers the payload capabilities of missions .
Now, Astroscale U.S. Inc., is dedicated to providing a prototype vehicle with refuelling capabilities in space for compatible satellites. Their solution will be ready by 2026, and builds upon refuelling technology used by previous missions to deliver fuel to clients.
Col. Joyce Bulson, USSF Service lead for SML said in a statement: “The Space Force is ready to respond to the unquestionable need identified by our warfighters and industry is enthusiastic to help us address the challenges of the new space age we find ourselves in,”
A big win for Astroscale
The funding was awarded in record time, using “Other Transaction Authority” (OTA), through the Space Enterprise Consortium, meaning they could take the idea from appropriation to award in five months.
“Responses to this solicitation were overwhelming, signaling that innovation is ready to take hold, with proper unity of effort and vision from the Service. I’m excited for the opportunities to both rise to the challenges set forth by our warfighters and advance our nation’s space capabilities.”
Space Systems Command is responsible for acquiring and delivering warfighting capabilities to protect the US’s strategic interests “in and from space”. SSC manages a $15 billion space acquisition budget for the Department of Defence and works with numerous partners.
While this project takes on a military priority, the need for refuel capabilities has a number of potential benefits, allowing new craft to be smaller, delivering more satellites per payload to space, and can even reduce the cost of development and construction.
Astroscale recently moved to a new home in Denver, Colorado, with a state-of-the-art lab and operations center. They have promised a working prototype by 2026.