OrbitFab Successfully Completes Testing of its In-Space Refueling Nozzle

OrbitFab Successfully Completes Testing of its In-Space Refueling Nozzle

Orbit Fab, the premier provider of on-orbit refueling services, announced the completion of testing of its refueling payload and testing of the GRIP capture and active in-space refueling nozzle with automated docking, which eliminates the need for complex robotic arms for refueling.

After completing rigorous GRIP testing and in-space refueling simulations, Orbit Fab has successfully retired major technical risks ahead of key government and commercial in-space servicing missions beginning next year.

Numerous hardware tests of Orbit Fab’s GRIP capture mechanism and refueling interface were conducted by the company’s engineering team and government customer representatives, utilizing the Air Force Research Lab’s (AFRL’s) state-of-the-art simulation facilities at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

A hardware testbed of a fuel shuttle, equipped with an Orbit Fab GRIP refueling mechanism, simulated the replenishment of a satellite low on fuel and featuring a RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) refueling port. Engineers tested a broad range of the GRIP mechanism’s capabilities, which exceeded all requirements as the fueling device approached the satellite from different angles and velocities, and as it docked with, locked on, and pushed off from the model satellite equipped with the refueling port.

The successful GRIP tests mark a major readiness milestone toward upcoming in-space-refueling and servicing missions. Orbit Fab delivered GRIP hardware this month, as well as a number of RAFTI units, ahead of multiple refueling missions that will use Orbit Fab’s GRIP and RAFTI interfaces.

The Space Force Tetra-5 program satellites will be among the first to have Orbit Fab’s RAFTI refueling ports during a first-of-its-kind refueling operation next year. An Orbit Fab fuel depot featuring its GRIP active docking and fluid transfer mechanism will lock on to the satellite’s RAFTI refueling port, create a fluid connection, and securely replenish each satellite.

“These successful performance tests of our GRIP active in-space nozzle and automated docking device mark a major accomplishment and milestone for our customers’ upcoming missions. The overall space economy is able to use GRIP and RAFTI refueling interfaces to redefine dynamic space operations,” said Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab CEO. “We are ahead of schedule following these key GRIP tests that put the major technical risks behind us. We will be providing GRIP and related fluid transfer systems to multiple partners who wish to add fuel delivery capability to their satellite servicing vehicles.”

Orbit Fab is partnering with a broad range of companies to produce fuel shuttles, which will feature GRIP refueling interfaces and fluid transfer systems. The Space Force Tetra-5 refueling mission in GEO is just one of many named and yet-to-be-named commercial and government programs that have selected Orbit Fab’s RAFTI and GRIP for spacecraft ground and on-orbit fueling operations. The DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has contracted with Orbit Fab for the first in-space fuel sale in GEO and has selected Orbit Fab’s RAFTI refueling port and GRIP docking and refueling nozzle as part of its RAPIDS Refueling and Fuel Depot Initiative.

“Orbit Fab’s GRIP tests and RAFTI qualification milestones show the care that our engineering team has for our refueling customers. Refueling allows a spacecraft to be agile and flexible during operations and adds mobility options for the satellite operator” explained Adam Harris, Orbit Fab’s Chief Commercial Officer. “RAFTI refueling ports are flight qualified and for $30,000 can replace a spacecraft fill and drain valve while adding the flexibility for in-space refueling. Orbit Fab is providing commercial and government missions a viable, affordable path to in-space refueling for spacecraft being built today.”

Orbit Fab is in discussions with space industry manufacturers to build RAFTI, under licensing agreements aimed at meeting growing demand for in-space refueling. The licensing agreements will initially accelerate RAFTI production and delivery to meet commercial and government market demand, while Orbit Fab focuses on propellant sales and GRIP production for in-space fuel delivery shuttles.

Click here to learn about Orbit Fab's refueling services.

Publisher: SatNow
Tags:-  SatelliteLaunchGround

GNSS Constellations - A list of all GNSS satellites by constellations


Satellite NameOrbit Date
BeiDou-3 G4Geostationary Orbit (GEO)17 May, 2023
BeiDou-3 G2Geostationary Orbit (GEO)09 Mar, 2020
Compass-IGSO7Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)09 Feb, 2020
BeiDou-3 M19Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M20Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)16 Dec, 2019
BeiDou-3 M21Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M22Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)23 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 I3Inclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Nov, 2019
BeiDou-3 M23Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019
BeiDou-3 M24Medium Earth Orbit (MEO)22 Sep, 2019


Satellite NameOrbit Date
GSAT0223MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0224MEO - Near-Circular05 Dec, 2021
GSAT0219MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0220MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0221MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0222MEO - Near-Circular25 Jul, 2018
GSAT0215MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0216MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0217MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017
GSAT0218MEO - Near-Circular12 Dec, 2017


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Kosmos 2569--07 Aug, 2023
Kosmos 2564--28 Nov, 2022
Kosmos 2559--10 Oct, 2022
Kosmos 2557--07 Jul, 2022
Kosmos 2547--25 Oct, 2020
Kosmos 2545--16 Mar, 2020
Kosmos 2544--11 Dec, 2019
Kosmos 2534--27 May, 2019
Kosmos 2529--03 Nov, 2018
Kosmos 2527--16 Jun, 2018


Satellite NameOrbit Date
Navstar 82Medium Earth Orbit19 Jan, 2023
Navstar 81Medium Earth Orbit17 Jun, 2021
Navstar 78Medium Earth Orbit22 Aug, 2019
Navstar 77Medium Earth Orbit23 Dec, 2018
Navstar 76Medium Earth Orbit05 Feb, 2016
Navstar 75Medium Earth Orbit31 Oct, 2015
Navstar 74Medium Earth Orbit15 Jul, 2015
Navstar 73Medium Earth Orbit25 Mar, 2015
Navstar 72Medium Earth Orbit29 Oct, 2014
Navstar 71Medium Earth Orbit02 Aug, 2014


Satellite NameOrbit Date
NVS-01Geostationary Orbit (GEO)29 May, 2023
IRNSS-1IInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)12 Apr, 2018
IRNSS-1HSub Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit (Sub-GTO)31 Aug, 2017
IRNSS-1GGeostationary Orbit (GEO)28 Apr, 2016
IRNSS-1FGeostationary Orbit (GEO)10 Mar, 2016
IRNSS-1EGeosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)20 Jan, 2016
IRNSS-1DInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)28 Mar, 2015
IRNSS-1CGeostationary Orbit (GEO)16 Oct, 2014
IRNSS-1BInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)04 Apr, 2014
IRNSS-1AInclined Geosynchronous Orbit (IGSO)01 Jul, 2013