Orbit Fab Announces Breakthrough in Satellite Refueling Port for Space Exploration

Orbit Fab Announces Breakthrough in Satellite Refueling Port for Space Exploration

Mihir Gadhvi 29/03/2024
Orbit Fab Announces Breakthrough in Satellite Refueling Port for Space Exploration

Orbit Fab has introduced its latest innovation: a $30,000 port designed to refuel satellites.

This port, named RAFTI, enables the transfer of propellant from an orbital tanker to the customer spacecraft, marking a significant advancement in space technology.

The Colorado-based startup, founded in 2018 by CEO Daniel Faber, a seasoned professional in the space industry, aims to create "gas stations" for satellites. Faber, known for his work at Deep Space Industries (DSI), recognized the potential in-space refueling presented for satellite missions. He discovered that adding just one kilogram of propellant could yield up to $1 million in additional revenue for satellite missions, prompting the development of RAFTI.

Orbit Fab's RAFTI is a docking mechanism that allows for the efficient transfer of propellant. The company's vision is to equip customer satellites with RAFTI before they are launched into space. Once in orbit, when a satellite requires refueling, one of Orbit Fab's tankers can deliver fuel directly to the satellite.

The startup has secured significant funding to support its endeavors. In its first year of operation, Orbit Fab raised $6 million in seed funding, followed by a $28.5 million Series A round in 2023. This financial support has enabled the company to develop and qualify RAFTI for flight.

The simplicity of Orbit Fab's approach belies the complexity of the technology involved. Developing a mechanism capable of safely transferring propellant in the harsh environment of space required meticulous attention to detail and adherence to stringent standards set by organizations such as NASA, the Space Force, and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Despite the challenges, Orbit Fab is making significant progress. The company anticipates deploying RAFTI-equipped satellites later this year, with the first fuel shuttle scheduled for launch in 2025. By offering fueling ports and fuel delivery services, Orbit Fab aims to make satellites reusable, thereby reducing space debris and maximizing the value of satellite missions.

Looking ahead, Orbit Fab plans to continue innovating and refining its technology. Future enhancements may include variants of RAFTI capable of supporting higher-pressure propellants and redesigned grapple housings for larger spacecraft. With its focus on making satellites reusable, Orbit Fab is poised to play a pivotal role in shaping the future of space exploration.

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Mihir Gadhvi

Tech Expert

Mihir Gadhvi is the co-founder of illustrake and HAYD. Illustrake is a D2C Enabler and offers Performance Marketing, Retention Marketing, and Content Creation Services. HAYD is a brand New, homegrown fashion line that aims to make clothing easy for us without taxing our planet. Although the concept is quite known now, HAYD wants to accomplish sustainability by reducing its impact on the environment with safe and fair manufacturing.

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