Space Systems Loral (SSL) has successfully completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) for NASA’s Restore-L mission to provide satellite servicing in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). The PDR demonstrates that the preliminary design meets system requirements within acceptable risk parameters. It also reviews cost and schedule estimates to ensure that the program remains within established guidelines.
The design review took place over a three-day period at SSL’s facilities and demonstrated that the SSL 1300 platform-based Restore-L design meets system requirements. Restore-L will now proceed to the detailed design phase as it makes progress towards a 2020 launch.
The PDR followed an April 2017 Systems Requirements Review (SRR), during which SSL and NASA teams worked together to review and verify the functional and performance requirements defined for the Restore-L spacecraft.
SSL is working with NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division (SSPD), to build a spacecraft that will, for the first time in history, refuel a satellite in orbit that was not designed for servicing. Restore-L will use robotics and an advanced suite of technologies to grasp and refuel an existing U.S. government satellite already in LEO with the goal of extending the operational lifetime of space assets, as well as to demonstrate the tools, technologies, and techniques that will help enable future space exploration missions and a new U.S. satellite servicing industry.
In-orbit satellite servicing and life extension has the potential to save large amounts of money, especially for large satellite operators. Purchasing new satellites can cost $150 million or more including manufacturing, launch, and insurance, and remain in orbit for about 15 years. Getting even a few more years of service life out of every satellite could save hundreds of millions of dollars in capital expenditures each year for government agencies like NASA or commercial companies like Intelsat and SES SA.