Northrop Grumman’s Refuelling Technology Boosts US Space Maneuverability Capabilities

Northrop Grumman Corporation, a leading global security company, has made a significant breakthrough in space technology. The company’s Passive Refueling Module (PRM) has been chosen as the first preferred refueling solution interface standard for Space Systems Command (SSC) satellites. This selection underscores the maturity and technical feasibility of the design, paving the way for future satellite designs to incorporate this interface and enable in-space fuel receipt.

The agreement also includes a contract for Northrop Grumman to deploy the PRM on an operational mission. This further strengthens the company’s role in enhancing the strategic capabilities of the United States in space. The SSC and the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) funded Northrop Grumman’s commercial subsidiary, SpaceLogistics, to integrate and fly the PRM aboard the company’s Mission Robotic Vehicle.

This initiative is part of a wider strategy to develop a robust in-space refueling infrastructure. The strategy includes the Geosynchronous Auxiliary Support Tanker (GAST) contract awarded to Northrop Grumman, initiating the development of a refueling tanker and related technologies vital for delivering fuel to space assets.

Lauren Smith, the program manager for in-space refueling at Northrop Grumman, highlighted the game-changing potential of refueling technology. Smith stressed that refueling is crucial for enhancing maneuverability, enabling the U.S. Department of Defense to fundamentally alter the way they operate U.S. assets in space.

On-orbit refueling is pivotal in addressing the challenges of a crowded and contested space domain. It allows spacecraft to continue maneuvering to engage threats, avoid debris, and extend the life of satellites.

Northrop Grumman possesses unrivaled expertise in Rendezvous and Proximity Operations (RPO) and leads the industry in on-orbit life-extension services. The company has over six years of experience servicing satellites in orbit, and its comprehensive refueling interface system includes mechanisms for successful docking and fuel transfer, as well as a refueling payload for managing the fuel transfer process.

This development is the result of years of effort, including numerous successful design reviews and rigorous testing campaigns. It reflects Northrop Grumman’s commitment to advancing the state of in-space servicing and maintaining U.S leadership in space.

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