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Starfish Space partners with Benchmark Space Systems to support orbital refueling

Artwork shows Orbit Fab’s “Gas Stations in Space” tanker in orbit. (Orbit Fab / Benchmark Space Illustration)

Starfish Space, a startup founded by veterans of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, is teaming up with Vermont-based Benchmark Space Systems to work on a precision-guided orbital refueling system for satellites.

The strategic collaboration calls for Starfish — which has its home base not far from Blue Origin’s HQ in Kent, Wash. — to test its Cephalopod docking software with Benchmark’s Halcyon thruster system. The Halcyon thrusters use non-toxic hydrogen peroxide as their propellant.

The setup would get its first on-orbit demonstration during Orbit Fab’s Tanker 1 mission, which is due for launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket next month.

“This Cephalopod mission is an exciting step for Starfish Space,” Trevor Bennett, Starfish’s co-founder, said today in a news release. “Our RPOD [rendezvous, proximity operations and docking] operations will validate our novel capabilities and set the stage for a new era of affordable and available satellite servicing.”

On-orbit servicing and refueling could extend the operating lifetimes of satellites, or allow for new spacecraft designs that wouldn’t need to carry so much fuel into orbit for in-space maneuvering.

San Francisco-based Orbit Fab has already tested its refueling technology on the International Space Station. The Tanker 1 spacecraft, built by Astro Digital, is designed to demonstrate on-orbit maneuverability.

Orbit Fab CEO Daniel Faber said he was “thrilled to see the enthusiasm and expertise” that’s driving collaborations like Starfish’s partnership with Benchmark.

“The more partnerships there are, pushing new ideas and innovations, the sooner the broader space industry will catch the wave of new in-space services like our Orbit Fab Gas Stations in Space tanker, set to launch RPOD maneuver demonstrations in a matter of days,” Faber said.

Orbit Fab and Starfish Space are also exploring further integration of Cephalopod and Orbit Fab’s Spark RPOD hardware kit. Starfish plans to use Cephalopod aboard its own small space tug known as the Otter, which is designed to support satellite servicing missions such as life extension and orbital debris removal.

Starfish Space, a startup founded by veterans of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture, is teaming up with Vermont-based Benchmark Space Systems to work on a precision-guided orbital refueling system for satellites. The strategic collaboration calls for Starfish — which has its home base not far from Blue Origin’s HQ in Kent, Wash. — to test its Cephalopod docking software with Benchmark’s Halcyon thruster system. The Halcyon thrusters use non-toxic hydrogen peroxide as their propellant. The setup would get its first on-orbit demonstration during Orbit Fab’s Tanker 1 mission, which is due for launch on a SpaceX Falcon… Read MoreSpace, Benchmark Space Systems, Orbit Fab, Starfish Space

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