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Orbit Fab and Neutron Star Systems Announce Partnership for Sustainable Propulsion and Satellite Refueling

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
April 11, 2022
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Tanker 1 satellite. (Credit: Orbit Fab)

DENVER and COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., April 7, 2022 (Orbit Fab/Neutron Star Systems PR) — Orbit Fab and Neutron Star Systems (NSS) established a cooperative agreement for co-development of satellite refueling solutions with green propellants. The agreement lays the foundation to increase the range of refuellable propellants by combining NSS propellant-agnostic electric propulsion technology with Orbit Fab’s refueling interfaces and tankers. 

“Just as Orbit Fab has been working with government partners, Orbit Fab is excited to establish new commercial partnerships with innovative propulsion providers like NSS to make our Gas Stations in Space™ refueling services more accessible to the ecosystem,” said Jeremy Schiel, Co-Founder & Chief Development Officer of Orbit Fab.

NSS and Orbit Fab’s cooperation has been fostered by the United States Space Force and Air Force Research Laboratory’s Catalyst Accelerator – both companies were members of the accelerator’s On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacture (OSAM) cohort which took place in Spring 2021. The cooperation is founded on Orbit Fab’s leadership in satellite refueling solutions and the wide propellant flexibility of NSS’s SUPREMETM electric thruster. With growing concerns over the safety and cost of traditional Hydrazine propellant, the adoption of new green propellants such as LMP 103S will be critical for enabling safer and more sustainable space operations.

“Cooperating with Orbit Fab is a clear step forward at NSS, as we look to capitalise on our traction in the USA. Following our recent restructuring, we are committed to build our multi-propellant capability in the USA and look forward to working with one of the leading new space companies in this field,” said Manuel La Rosa Betancourt, CEO of NSS.

Orbit Fab is pioneering the introduction of on-orbit refueling, having launched its first tanker to orbit, Tanker-001 Tenzing, last summer. Earlier this month, Orbit Fab announced a $12 million AFWERX STRATFI program to integrate RAFTI onto DoD assets to provide them with refueling services.

NSS SUPREME™ is an Applied-Field Magnetoplasmadynamic (AF-MPD) thruster that leverages industrially mature High-Temperature Superconductors (HTS) to create the magnetic fields to create a dense, high temperature plasma and generate thrust through crossed electrostatic and magnetic fields. The result is a low thrust and high fuel efficiency thruster that can operate on several different types of propellant, including Argon and Ammonia, which are over 100x cheaper than the industry standard, Xenon.

“We see great synergies between the propellant flexibility offered by SUPREME, and the business model of Orbit Fab. We expect SUPREME will provide a standardised propulsion solution to support refueling operations for any customer,” said Marcus Collier-Wright, CTO of NSS.

“NSS are exciting to work with since they tackle the next generation of EP challenges. With propellant flexibility and refueling I’m excited to see what new business models we can enable together, said James Bultitude, CTO of Orbit Fab.

About Orbit Fab

Orbit Fab believes a bustling in-space economy is a precondition to permanent jobs in space. By providing a ubiquitous supply of satellite propellant in LEO, GEO, and cis-lunar space (branded Gas Stations in Space™), the company improves existing space business models (communications and Earth observation) and helps open new industries like space tourism, manufacturing, and mining. Orbit Fab has racked up a number of world-firsts: the first-ever commercially available in-space refueling port (RAFTI™), the first-ever private company to resupply the International Space Station with water, and the first-ever satellite fuel depot. The future for satellites is no longer restricted to the fuel they are launched with. Orbit Fab delivers the fuel and other materials that are needed, where and when they are needed, to enable business models never before thought possible. The company recently announced its first commercial fuel sale to Astroscale, a private orbital debris removal company headquartered in Tokyo, Japan. 

About Neutron Star Systems

Neutron Star Systems is a new-space start-up headquartered in Cologne, Germany, focused on the development of superconductor-based spacecraft systems. NSS core product is an Electric Propulsion system combining High-Temperature Superconductors with Applied-Field Magnetoplasmadynamic Thrusters, providing greater scalability, efficiency, and operational flexibility, and enabling more powerful and more capable spacecraft while cutting costs by up to billions of dollars. Alongside the German headquarters, NSS runs operations  in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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