Orbit Fab and ClearSpace Collaborate on In-Orbit Refueling

Image: ClearSpace/Orbit Fab

Orbit Fab and ClearSpace are teaming up to bring their in-space servicing capabilities together in orbit.

PB&J: Orbit Fab’s refueling architecture and ClearSpace’s rendezvous and docking tech complement one another, ClearSpace chief strategy officer Tim Maclay told Payload. The MoU the two companies have signed aims to build on that relationship to provide a more complete in-orbit refueling service to customers.

“The fastest way to get to market is to use things that are being developed already and that are more advanced,” Daniel Faber, CEO of Orbit Fab, told Payload. “By building a collaborative, open approach with ClearSpace…we can refuel the whole space economy a lot quicker.”

The port: Orbit Fab is building refueling ports and fuel depots to gas up sats in orbit and extend their lifetimes. These gas stations in space are headed to GEO as early as 2025, where they’ll offer hydrazine top-ups for $20M per 100 kg of fuel.

Orbit Fab is also shipping its RAFTI refueling ports to customers. The company is capable of manufacturing ~100 RAFTIs per year, and is exploring options to ramp up that cadence to meet demand from constellation operators aiming to make their birds refuelable.

The refueler: ClearSpace bills itself as a space sustainability company that’s building in-space servicing spacecraft to ensure the long-term viability of the space environment. The company has several contracts with European agencies to perform active debris removal (ADR) and docking maneuvers.

Though the company got its start with a few major ADR contracts, ClearSpace is now exploring the wider world of in-orbit servicing.

  • “This whole theme of mission extension, replenishment of consumables, it’s all sort of a variation on a theme where the capabilities can all be reused and repackaged, scaled, modularized, and put out there for different applications,” Maclay said.

This MoU is the second time that Orbit Fab and ClearSpace have officially teamed up—Orbit Fab is already supplying a RAFTI port for the CLEAR active debris removal mission that ClearSpace is performing for the UK Space Agency.

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