Launch of Starfish books for the orbiting satellite docking mission next fall

TAMPA, Fla. — Starfish Space said Nov. 9 it plans to conduct the first satellite docking test using electric propulsion next fall, when its Otter Pup demonstrator attempts to join another spacecraft in Earth orbit. low.

An orbital transfer vehicle (OTV) from Launcher, a small rocket developer, aims to drop the demonstrator to an initial altitude after riding together on a Falcon 9 in the summer. The OTV will also serve as a docking target.

Starfish, based in Kent, Wash., said OTV and Otter Pup secured a launch for SpaceX’s Transporter 8 rideshare mission.

Exotrail, which also develops OTVs, is supplying the electric-powered thruster that Otter Pup will use for a mission to demonstrate key technologies for Starfish’s in-orbit service business.

Starfish says using electric propulsion, instead of chemical-based alternatives, will allow it to produce repairers that are cheaper and smaller than the service spacecraft that Northrop Grumman and Astroscale currently have in orbit.

“We’re trying to dock a satellite at 5% of the cost of any similar mission in history,” said Starfish co-founder Trevor Bennett.

Astro Digital manufactures the Otter Pup chassis, which is about the size of a microwave oven, and Redwire provides the Argus camera hardware it will use for relative navigation.

The mission also aims to demonstrate Starfish rendezvous, proximity operations and docking (RPOD) technologies, including software to determine the relative position of a docking target and plan trajectories. .

Starfish flight tested its RPOD software at Orbit Fab’s spacecraft refueling demonstration mission last year in low Earth orbit.

Starfish co-founder Austin Link said this software is able to take Otter Pup several miles away to dock without any human intervention.

However, “with great caution for this mission, we have multiple time windows where humans may decide we are not comfortable and we may stop the trajectory sequence,” he added via email. .

After separating from the OTV, Otter Pup is to lock on with an electrostatic capture mechanism Starfish calls Nautilus, before detaching and retreating to a safe distance to perform further tests.

Honeybee Robotics supported the mechanical design of Nautilus.

Link said the company always decides where to dock with the OTV.

We won’t return to exactly where we broke free from because there is a separation ring there, but there are a few places nearby,” he said.

If the demonstration is successful, Starfish aims to develop a slightly larger Otter satellite service vehicle – somewhere between the size of a mini-fridge and an oven – that could extend the life of geostationary satellites in addition to remove debris.

the adventure raised $7 million last year from early-stage investors to accelerate its plans.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *