Startup raises $28.5 million to construct gas stations in space that can refuel satellites

Orbit Fab intends to build a network of ports to enable the on-orbit refueling of satellites, which will enable them to operate for a longer time.
Mrigakshi Dixit
Illustration of Orbit Fab depot in space.
Illustration of Orbit Fab depot in space.

One of the most difficult issues in space exploration is extending the lifespan of satellites. Even if the satellite's system is operational, it can run out of fuel and become defunct. 

Enter Orbit Fab. This startup is working on an innovative solution to make satellites reusable by developing gas stations in space to refuel them. We had written about them in 2021.

According to an official release, the Colorado-based company recently raised $28.5 million in a series A round led by 8090 Industries. This will drive the company further to reach its ambitious goals. 

"Orbit Fab is the in-space refueling category-definer. We’ve invested in Orbit Fab because of their unique ability to capitalize on the growing demand for in-space servicing and their strong positioning as a key provider of critical infrastructure to the entire space economy," Kerem Ozmen, Co-Founder and CEO, of 8090 Industries, in the company’s official release. 

Funding will accelerate infrastructure development

The goal of Orbit Fab is to build a network of orbital refueling ports to enable the on-orbit refueling of satellites, allowing them to operate for longer periods. Not to mention that the cost of developing and launching a single Earth observation satellite is a whopping million dollars. This innovation could save a large amount of money. 

Furthermore, it can also refuel geostationary satellites, which are used in Earth communication applications. Due to the gravitational influence of the Earth, Sun, and Moon, these satellites sway slightly from their intended location. Therefore these satellites need fuel to remain in orbit.  

The funding will enable "the deployment of fuel delivery and storage infrastructure in GEO, LEO, and VLEO orbits". 

To achieve this lofty goal, several cutting-edge innovations are combined. The RAFTI, or Rapidly Attachable Fuel Transfer Interface, is a refueling spaceport innovation. This port system must be integrated into the satellites to allow for on-demand refueling. 

The RAFTI satellites are refueled using Orbit Fab's on-orbit fuel shuttles, which can attach to and refuel them. 

"We will leverage the funding to drive fuel sales and intensify the production and integration of our RAFTI refueling ports aboard government and commercial spacecraft to power the engines of the industrial revolution in space. As rockets have become reusable over the past decade, Orbit Fab has made satellites reusable to enable the bustling space economy," said Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab Founding CEO. 

The company is currently working on four fuel shuttle missions that are likely to be launched over the next three years. According to Forbes, the cost of refueling one satellite comes at a price tag of around $20 million. They also have Department of Defense projects valued at $21 million. 

With this ambitious goal, satellites may have extended life missions in the near future and could be saved from becoming space junk. 

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