Orbit Fab is a startup that is developing a propellant depot system that would provide fuel for satellites and spacecraft heading beyond earth orbit: Startup plans “gas stations” for satellite servicing – SpaceNews.com
Fuel depot concept design – Orbit Fab
“We differentiate ourselves from the satellite servicing operators in that we’re looking to put up just dumb tanks full of propellant, to provide that propellant where it’s needed, and we’re looking to partner with the satellite servicing operators to help improve their business models,” said Daniel Faber, chief executive of Orbit Fab, in an interview.
The initial approach is for a modular system based around CubeSat sized fuel modules. This would allow for incremental expansion of the orbital depots. A demonstration mission is planned for 2019 with support from NASA.
The company wants to work with satellite servicing ventures, providing them with a capability beyond what is currently planned for first-gen servicing systems:
One challenge the company faces is timing the introduction of any depots so that they are ready when satellite servicing vehicles enter service, but not too early. Several companies are working on satellite servicing concepts that either provide life extension or orbital maneuvering for satellites or are able to direct refuel or performing other servicing of satellites. Some of those vehicles, though, aren’t expected to enter service until the early 2020s.
Initial capital is coming from the San Francisco based Bolt Build fund. CEO Daniel Faber previously led Deep Space Industries.