Sydney-based istartup Space Machines Company has announced a partnership with refuelling company Orbit Fab — which the pair says combines their expertise “to advance in-space servicing” — with a planned launch aboard a SpaceX rocket next year.
SMC has a stated goal of eventually offering “roadside assistance in space” for on-orbit infrastructure.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Australian company said it had integrated Colorado-headquartered Orbit Fab’s space fiducial alignment markers (pictured below) on the orbital servicing vehicle, Optimus (main picture), with the markers functioning “like QR codes in space” and providing position and orientation data.
“Orbit Fab was founded to eliminate the single-use spacecraft paradigm through in-space refuelling,” said Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab CEO, in a statement on Wednesday.
“Our collaborative work with Space Machines Company demonstrates cooperative docking alignment markers that support safe, sustainable space operations.”
SMC plans to provide on-orbit, transportation and other in-space services after the planned launch on a SpaceX Transporter-10 in “early 2024”.
It has been trickling out details of its 270-kilogram, Australian-made Optimus transporter this year, such as the inclusion of an Inovor Technologies navigation system, the payloads of five Australian startups to travel in three of Optimus’s compartments, and the use of Siemens software in designing the 270-kilogram Orbital Servicing Vehicle.
Both Orbit Fab and SMC’s missions will conduct “a range of rendezvous and proximity operations maneuvers to validate and test” their respective technologies, according to the statement.
“This collaboration represents a significant milestone in the advancement of in-space servicing technologies,” said Rajat Kulshrestha, Space Machines Company co-founder and CEO.
“It is the first purely commercial partnership of its kind and will serve as a pioneering example of in-space validation of these groundbreaking technologies.”