Orbit Fab, AFRL Sign R&D Agreement

Orbit Fab and the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) have struck a partnership to share technology and R&D. What does that mean in practice? 

Per yesterday’s announcement, Orbit Fab will share the specs of RAFTI, its on-orbit refueling port, with AFRL. In return, AFRL will review Orbit Fab’s refueling tech, “advise on requirements and designs,” and open up its facilities to the startup. 

  • Equal parts petrochemical company, gas station developer, and in-space service provider, Orbit Fab has already sent a sub-100 lb. propellant depot to low-Earth orbit (LEO). 
  • A Falcon 9 will hoist a much heavier Orbit Fab tanker into geostationary (GEO) orbit in late 2022/early 2023.

Who’s interested? Northup Grumman and Lockheed Martin participated in Orbit Fab’s September $10M raise. The company’s prospective customer base seems to be concentrated in the US defense and intelligence communities, which have expensive assets in higher orbits. 

Should everything go to plan, Orbit Fab wants to also top off the gas tank for commercial vehicles, too, whether it’s an asteroid-bound miner or LEO satellite low on thruster juice.