Northrop Grumman's second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV) has docked with Intelsat's IS-10-02 satellite, potentially extending the life of the latter by five years. Launched in 2004, IS-10-02 delivers broadband and media services over Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Half of its Ku band payload is owned by …
Not with this vehicle. Hubble's problems are with failing gyros, crucial to it being able to point at one part of the sky for long periods. I doubt if MEV-3's attitude control is anything like as good. In addition, moving from geosynchronous orbit down to Hubble orbit would take too much fuel, probably more than it has available. Drifting from one part of geosynchronous orbit to another is cheap on fuel.
In any case, Hubble is being superseded (or is that starved) by the James Webb scope. With a communications satellite, there's somebody's profit at stake. Hubble doesn't make a financial profit.
Hubble taking photos of the Earth doesn't work. It's looking at an area that is whizzing past way too fast. Shortest exposure time is 0.1 seconds in which time the Hubble has covered 700m. And it's not possible for the Hubble to slew fast enough to compensate.
You just design your camera for exactly that environment!
Earth facing satellites have cameras that are designed to be taking images of something that close travelling past that fast whereas Hubble is designed to image stationary objects over very long periods of time ........
Oh, why am I even bothering. I'll just ask someone far smarter than me. Please Mr Randall Munroe, can you explain what happens when you point Hubble at the Earth.
No word on that. Apparently, if it's in chunks of five years, it should at least be able to function ten years, otherwise it wouldn't be very good for servicing multiple satellites.
But I'd like to have more information on that. The wiki page hardly mentions any technical specs at all, and Grummans' site is only a polished marketing piece.
Could anyone get some cold, hard numbers on this thing ?
It has a design lifespan of fifteen years, according to this page. I'm not sure what the limiting factor is on the lifespan, I assume it's based on estimated fuel (edit: or I guess that should be reaction mass) usage, so depending how conservative their estimates are, perhaps they might still have an extra mission in the tank at the end.
Probably the five year thing is a compromise between "long enough contract that you don't do very many risky docking procedures during its life" and "short enough that the owner of the client satellite can be assured that other than lack of fuel the satellite is otherwise expected to remain fully functional for the term of the contract".
Satellites are built for a certain design life, and stuff like solar panels, batteries, etc. will slowly degrade over time so you can't keep a satellite that's run out of fuel functioning forever this way. But perhaps after five years Intelsat might decide to renew with MEV-2 for another term, if their satellite is still functioning well and there is still a need for what it is doing.
Once Northrup feels more comfortable about the docking/undocking stuff they might be willing to accept shorter terms than five years.
Hence the five year term, rather than the longer term that MEV-2's propellant will last. As stated above, outright failures of equipment on satellites are relatively rare, at least after they've been in service for a while. Things like solar panels and batteries degrade, but at a fairly well known rate so Intelsat probably has a pretty good idea of the overall health of all the components.
This is so incredibly cool. Picturing a pod docking onto a far away satellite automatically, connecting to some port behind a covering that has been closed for years. Like a battery pack for an aging mobile phone, but also with additional electronics. Of course, this is a huge market, not just for civilian, but also for military satellites.
"Certainly, keeping the lights on a bit longer and putting off the expensive moment when a replacement must be launched is a double benefit."
I understand the description as "win win" and the benefits of extending the life of the satelite, thus delaying the cost of launching a replacement, but if it's 17 years into a 13 year mission, surely they costed that out 20 years ago and expected to launch a replacement at least 4 years ago? Or was not really financially viable at the time of original launch? Or is just that sweating the assets means more pennies for the upper echelons of the company? What if it had failed sometime in the last 4 years, ie past it's sell-by date?
At moment there is deep reluctance to launch communications / broadband satellites into geosynchronous orbits (GEO) because low-earth orbit (LEO) satellite constellations deliver lower latency (600ms versus 20ms), higher bandwidth and cheaper ground install as receiver dishes don't need to be precisely aligned.
SpaceX Starlink are going to own the satellite internet market.
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