Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Northrop Grumman orbital refueling tech selected for U.S. military satellites

Northrop Grumman Corporation’s Passive Refueling Module (PRM) has been chosen as the first preferred refueling solution interface standard for use across SSC satellites.

The company is working with SSC, the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU), and other clients to develop in-space refueling technologies for space-based assets. These advancements will address a crucial national security need, which is sustained maneuverability for dynamic space operations.

Northrop Grumman’s PRM was selected for a project based on its design’s technical viability and maturity. Future satellites could feature an interface similar to the PRM to receive fuel while in space.

SSC awarded Northrop Grumman the Geosynchronous Auxiliary Support Tanker (GAS-T) contract to develop a refueling tanker and associated technologies to deliver fuel in space. To integrate and fly the PRM on the company’s Mission Robotic Vehicle, SSC and DIU jointly funded Northrop Grumman’s commercial in-space servicing subsidiary, SpaceLogistics.

“Refueling is the key to enhanced maneuverability, enabling our DoD customers to categorically change the way they operate U.S. assets in space. Built on a strong foundation of satellite servicing innovation, we are prepared to deliver a complete refueling architecture solution,” said Lauren Smith, program manager of in-space refueling at Northrop Grumman.

Rob Hauge, president of SpaceLogistics, Northrop Grumman: “In an increasingly contested and congested space domain, on-orbit refueling will enable spacecraft to continue maneuvering to engage threats, avoid debris, and extend the life of satellites. As the first and only company successfully providing commercial in-space servicing missions in GEO, we continue to collaborate with SSC and other government customers to mature in-space refueling capabilities.”

Northrop Grumman continues the rapid development of technologies to deploy the capability to refuel space-based assets. With their expertise in Rendezvous and Proximity Operations and their extensive experience in servicing satellites in orbit, they are well-positioned to lead the industry in on-orbit life extension.

Their refueling interface system includes all the necessary elements for successful docking and transfer of fuel and a reliable refueling payload that handles fuel transfer. All of this is a result of years of hard work and dedication, which have been reinforced by numerous successful design reviews and test campaigns.