How Space Infrastructure is Set to Change for Satellite Operators
With technology advancements breaking boundaries in every province of our lives, it isn’t surprising to see a tech marvel, such as a space-traveling fuel station. Yes, you heard that right. The SIS spacecraft isn’t just capable of robotic refueling but also performing maintenance work on satellites that are orbiting the Earth. We speak with Robert Feierbach, Vice President at Space Infrastructure Services (SIS), to understand how they plan to change the way satellite operators think about space infrastructure and the future of space travel and exploration.
How did SIS start? Tell us the story.
SIS was born out of the dire need for the satellite industry to optimize the deployment and operation of all spacecrafts and satellites. SIS provides services that add a few more years of operational life to satellites that already in-orbit. This way, satellite companies now have the flexibility to better manage the maintenance and procurement of new satellites. Partnering with DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) on its RSGS (Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites) project will help us support the business structure to make on-orbit satellite servicing a reality by 2021.
SIS provides a kind of roadside assistance to satellite operators. How does this on-orbit servicing work?
Our SIS service vehicle will be launched in 2021 and will have the capability to provide multiple missions every year for on-orbit services such as inspection, repair, repositioning, augmentation and refueling to existing spacecrafts and satellites. With its two dexterous robotic arms and the various tools, it will carry, we will be able to respond to scheduled and emergency servicing needs for our customers across the globe.
How has establishing numerous partnerships helped you? Why has it been so essential to get these partners on board?
Partnerships were absolutely essential to SIS. Our partners brought well-proven experience in space and robotics to our group. SSL provided their satellite manufacturing excellence, MDA their robotic arm heritage, DARPA their support for leading-edge space technologies, NRL their space robotics mission capabilities, and DRAPER provided their remote proximity operations software. All combined, our partners have performed more than 200 robotic missions in space to date.
How does SIS plan to change the way satellite operators think about space infrastructure?
SIS is enabling an entirely new space infrastructure. Not only can satellite operators extend the life of their on-orbit spacecrafts, but they can design new satellites, with an external plug-in module that is capable of augmenting or upgrading the functionality whilst the satellite is in orbit. In addition, SIS can provide buildup and assembly of larger satellite structures in-space.
What is the future of space travel and exploration? Do you reckon it will grow by leaps and bounds?
Our industry is on the cusp of a next-generation space age. Investors are enthusiastic about funding space technology innovation, and numerous commercial companies are preparing to offer services for space tourism, space exploration, asteroid mining, etc. When you add the several low earth orbit (LEO) constellations being deployed over the next few years, we will be enjoying a very buoyant and competitive space services industry.
Why did you choose a .SPACE domain? How is it helping you develop a unique online brand?
Since our business is all about space technology, the .Space domain name fits perfectly with our core competence and industry niche.