A Fuel Station in Space for Satellites to be Refueled

By Consultants Review Team Tuesday, 12 March 2024

The amount of fuel a satellite carries has a significant impact on its lifespan. Even if the parts are in good condition, it veers off course and becomes space trash when its fuel runs out. What if satellites can be refueled? This idea is being developed by a startup company in Chennai, which plans to send many gasoline tanker satellites into orbit and eventually establish a fuel station there.

Founded in August 2021 by two recent engineering graduates, OrbitAID Aerospace Pvt Ltd received ~4.5 crore in pre-seed investment this week from TANSIM and StartupTN, two departments of the Tamil Nadu government. By extending the lifespan and usefulness of satellites, OrbitAID aims to lessen the frequency of satellite replacements and future launch missions. This reduces the amount of space debris produced and lessens the chance of collisions in near-Earth orbit.

Originating from a hamlet in the Perambalur area, Sakthikumar completed his master's degree at BITS, Ranchi, after studying aeronautical engineering at a college in Karur. He began working as a project associate in the aerospace engineering department at IISc, Bengaluru, where he was introduced to satellites and rockets as well as the latest advancements in space technology.

“Our goal was to launch our business in 2015 with co-founder and COO Nikhil Balasubramanian and myself. However, private companies were barred from this industry. In 2021, doors opened for private players, he said. The business intends to create a network of gasoline tanker satellites and position itself closer to their customer satellites, all supported by years of study. All of these "fuel tankers" will later refuel at a primary fueling station that will be placed in orbit, after which they will all reposition themselves close to their intended satellites. Each tanker has a 15–20 year orbital life and may refuel satellites several times. The satellites would be returned to Earth when their mission was over.

Later this year, OrbitAID plans to conduct a demonstration flight, perhaps utilizing Isro's docking and refueling platform. It will launch a tanker satellite to refuel in addition to its own satellite initially. It will launch its line of tanker satellites based on the outcomes. We aim to make our services available for purchase by the end of 2026 or the beginning of 2027. Sakthikumar claims there is a worldwide potential in space.

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