Constellations, Launch, New Space and more…

NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 Mission Ready for Spacecraft Build

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
May 6, 2021
Filed under , , , , , , ,
OSAM-1 satellite (Credit: Maxar Technologies)

PALO ALTO, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA is one step closer to robotically refueling a satellite and demonstrating in-space assembly and manufacturing thanks to the completion of an important milestone.

In April 2021, NASA and Maxar Technologies successfully completed the On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 (OSAM-1) mission spacecraft accommodation Critical Design Review (CDR). This milestone demonstrates that the maturity of the design for the OSAM-1 spacecraft bus is appropriate to support proceeding with fabrication, assembly, integration, and testing.

OSAM-1 will, for the first time ever, robotically refuel a U.S. government satellite not designed to be serviced. The spacecraft will consist of a servicing payload, provided by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, with two robotic arms that will be attached to the spacecraft bus. The bus will also incorporate a payload called Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER) that will demonstrate in-space assembly and manufacturing. SPIDER will use a third robotic arm to assemble a communications antenna and an element called MakerSat built by Tethers Unlimited to manufacture a beam. The spacecraft bus and SPIDER are being built by Maxar Technologies.

This image, taken by Maxar in their Palo Alto, California, facility, features the OSAM-1 spacecraft bus under development. The 14-foot-tall bus will provide OSAM-1 with power and the ability to maneuver in orbit. To make these maneuvers possible, inside the main cylinder are two large bi-propellant tanks, and the upper and lower deck of the spacecraft feature thrusters. The two silver spheres are filled with mono-propellant fuel that will be used to provide OSAM-1’s target client satellite, Landsat 7, with more fuel to demonstrate that robotically refueling a satellite is possible.

Upon completion of the OSAM-1 spacecraft bus and related testing at Maxar’s facilities in mid-2022, it will be sent to Goddard. NASA will complete the integration and testing of the OSAM-1 components, including the spacecraft bus, servicing payload, and SPIDER, in preparation for launch.

OSAM-1 is funded by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate through its Technology Demonstration Missions program.

2 responses to “NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 Mission Ready for Spacecraft Build”

  1. Robert G. Oler says:


    • duheagle says:

      But also duplicative of several private sector efforts. It’s far from obvious that this NASA bird will be advancing any technology beyond what private enterprise is already doing or has in the works. To me, that suggests this mission is something NASA doesn’t need to be doing.

Leave a Reply