For the initially time, a person industrial satellite has grabbed hold of a different one in orbit all over Earth, demonstrating a know-how that could help lower the proliferation of house particles close to our earth by enabling the maintenance and refueling of dying spacecraft.

“This is the very first time in record a docking has been done with a satellite that was not pre-made with docking in head,” Joe Anderson, a vice president at SpaceLogistics, a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman, reported through a phone information conference on Wednesday.

The corporation crafted the robotic Mission Extension Automobile-1, or MEV-1, which was introduced in Oct on major of a Russian Proton rocket. More than the past couple months, it has manufactured its way to far more than 22,000 miles earlier mentioned Earth’s floor, just earlier mentioned what is known as geosynchronous orbit. Its goal was Intelsat 901, an 18-yr-previous communications satellite that is performing fine but running low on fuel.

Intelsat taken off the communications satellite from support in December and elevated it to the exact altitude as MEV-1 for this demonstration. Sky watchers like Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, observed that MEV-1 approached within just a few miles of the Intelsat satellite about a week in the past.

MEV-1 docked with Intelsat 901 on Tuesday at 2:15 a.m. Eastern time, Northrop Grumman announced. MEV-1 will keep on being related, offering propulsion for the Intelsat with its electric thrusters. After exams of its techniques, MEV-1 will thrust the Intelsat satellite to a new operational orbit in late March or early April.

Without the need of MEV-1, Intelsat 901 would need to have to be retired inside months. Underneath the agreement, MEV-1 is to extend the life time of Intelsat 901 by 5 yrs. MEV-1 will then thrust it to a greater orbit regarded as the graveyard, the place it will be decommissioned and not in hazard of colliding with other satellites. Created to past 15 yrs, MEV-1 will then undock and can be sent to support one more satellite.

The two companies declined to discuss about pricing, but Stephen Spengler, the chief executive of Intelsat, stated, “The economics work for us.”

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