Space Force Awards Astroscale $25M for Satellite that Refuels Satellites

The launch-ready prototype will be delivered by 2026.

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Astroscale U.S., a provider of on-orbit services and logistics across all orbits, has been awarded a $25.5 million contract to design and deliver to the United States Space Force (USSF) a satellite to refuel other compatible satellites in space. The launch-ready Astroscale Prototype Servicer for Refueling, or APS-R, will be delivered by 2026.  

“The advent of in-air refueling completely changed the equation for the duration and distance of aircraft missions,” said President and Managing Director of Astroscale U.S., Ron Lopez. “The space industry is on the cusp of a similar fuel-led technological revolution, and I am thrilled that SSC has selected Astroscale U.S. to develop APS-R to bring fuel to its client spacecraft. This innovation in on-orbit servicing will ultimately extend the range and mobility of satellites in orbit, allowing the USSF to do more with their operational assets. APS-R opens the door to rethinking the way satellites are designed and operated, marking a significant leap forward in the capabilities and sustainability of satellites in orbit.” 

  • APS-R will carry and transfer hydrazine to its client spacecraft, rather than the client having to maneuver to a fuel depot, allowing client operations to continue uninterrupted. 
  • APS-R is designed as a standard ESPA class satellite (the size of a gas pump) to conduct multiple refueling missions in GEO. 
  • APS-R is funded by a public-private partnership, with $25.5 million by the USSF and approximately $12 million by Astroscale U.S. and its partner and supplier team.  
  • The launch-ready APS-R will be designed and delivered within a 24-month performance period.  
  • Astroscale U.S. selected the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) to build the APS-R bus at their San Antonio, TX, facility.

“The competitive selection of Astroscale U.S. for the development of APS-R marks a pivotal moment in advancing our Space Mobility and Logistics capabilities,” said Col. Joyce Bulson, USSF Service Lead for SML. “Astroscale U.S.’ innovative approach aligns seamlessly with the Space Force’s commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements. With APS-R, we are not merely extending the operational life of satellites; we are enhancing our responsiveness, flexibility and overall mission capabilities. This collaboration signifies a bold step forward in our efforts to secure and strengthen the U.S. Space Force’s position in an ever-evolving space domain, reinforcing our commitment to innovation and ensuring the sustainability of our space assets.” 

“As we embark on this journey to revolutionize space operations, Astroscale U.S. is honored to partner with SSC’s Assured Access to Space Directorate and SpEC,” said Lopez. “Our commitment to advancing space sustainability and mobility is unwavering. Together, we are shaping the future of on-orbit servicing, extending the reach of satellites, and empowering the U.S. Space Force to navigate the complexities of the space domain with heightened flexibility, efficiency and capability. APS-R is not just about extending the life of satellites; it’s about expanding the possibilities of what we can achieve in space. Astroscale U.S. is proud to be at the forefront of this transformative endeavor, propelling the space industry into a new era of innovation and exploration.” 

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