NASA Awards Restore-L Refueling Spacecraft Mission Contract to Space Systems Loral
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has awarded the Restore-L Spacecraft Bus and Support Services contract to Space Systems Loral (SSL), formerly known as Space Systems/Loral, LLC (SS/L).
Through an official press release from NASA, stated:
"The contract has a firm-fixed-price and includes a three-year core period and a two-year indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity portion. The total maximum value of the contract is $127 million. Space Systems Loral will provide spacecraft bus, critical hardware and services for the development, deployment and operations of the Restore-L mission. They also will provide related services to accomplish mission integration, test, launch and operations."
Based in Palo Alto, California, SSL, a subsidiary satellite building company of MDA of Canada, has been gearing up to launch a commercial in-orbit servicing business in the future.
In an email sent to SpaceNews, Steve Oldham, the former president of MDA's Space Infrastructure Services division who currently leads strategic business development at SSL, confirmed this, saying the company has interest from prospective customers in using an SSL-built servicer, and that the MDA board of directors expects to make a decision on relaunching such a business through SSL in the very near future.
SSL's work with NASA on Restore-L "will likely contribute to technologies that could be used in future government and commercial missions and will therefore help us in developing our strategy for commercial on-orbit servicing missions," Oldham continued.
A Technology Demonstration Mission project managed by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Restore-L is sponsored by NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate. In an effort to maximize the service life of spacecraft, engineers at Goddard's Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office who first conceived and who are now in charge of the continuous developments of the project, specifically designed Restore-L for in-orbit refueling of satellites in orbit, even those not built to have their fuel tanks opened in space.
Restore-L is scheduled to be launched to a polar low-Earth orbit in mid-2020, where engineers will execute its flight test with the government-owned Landsat 7 client satellite. In orbit for more than 20 years now, Landsat-7 was launched in 1999 via a Delta 2 rocket.