Orbit Fab startup sets price tag for satellite refueling service in space

Orbit Fab has big plans to develop refueling stations for satellites that require fuel. For this, they need a special connecting mechanism to transfer fuel from an orbital tanker to the customer’s spacecraft. This mechanism, called RAFTI, has already passed flight tests and is available on the market at a price of “only” 30 thousand dollars.

The RAFTI mechanism for refueling satellites in space. Illustration: Orbit Fab

The Colorado-based company, which launched in 2018 and won the TechCrunch Disrupt Battlefield competition, is actively working on this project. Its CEO, Daniel Faber, has significant experience in the space industry. He previously headed Deep Space Industries (DSI), a company that was involved in an asteroid mining project. The new firm, founded in 2012, was acquired by Bradford Space seven years later.

Faber emphasizes the importance of orbital refueling stations, especially in connection with the development of the private space sector. Orbital refueling stations can become an important means to provide fuel for satellites and extend their service life. Orbit Fab has already attracted investments from Bolt and Munich Re Ventures, as well as conducted a Series A round worth USD 28.5 million.

A key element of the company is the RAFTI fuel transfer mechanism, which can be installed on customers’ satellites to then provide them with fuel. In addition, the company offers delivery of 100 kg of fuel into orbit for USD 20 million.

The RAFTI mechanism for refueling satellites in space. Illustration: Orbit Fab

However, the creation of such an infrastructure is not only technically difficult, but also requires compliance with the safety standards of space organizations. Orbit Fab is simultaneously working to improve its mechanism and plans to develop new options to meet the growing market needs. 

The first RAFTI mechanisms will be installed on customers’ satellites in the coming months. Later, the company plans to start delivering fuel to geostationary orbit under a contract with the US Department of Defense. Orbit Fab expects significant demand for its services and products in the near future.

Earlier, we reported on how the Launcher Space tug received its first customers.

According to techcrunch.com

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