Satellites are designed to withstand a variety of challenges to ensure that the sensitive electronics on board can survive the effects of launch and perform for years in the harsh conditions of space. One of the major hurdles engineering teams face when designing a satellite is how much fuel it can carry to operate throughout its lifetime. Many satellites are left to die and then become space debris after they run out of fuel. But what if we were able to refuel them?
The ability to refuel satellites in space could one day save satellite operators from the significant costs of building and launching new replacement satellites. With over 1000 active satellites currently operating in the near-Earth environment (many of them worth hundreds of millions of dollars), and an additional 180 decommissioned satellites still orbiting around our planet, the savings would be substantial.