IntelsatTwo aerospace companies accomplished an industry initially on Monday, as a little Northrop Grumman spacecraft docked successfully with an active Intelsat satellite to offer service and extend its life.Intelsats IS-1002 satellite is nearly 18 years old, and operating well past its expected life-span, but the Northrop Grumman-built spacecraft called MEV-2 will include another 5 years of life to IS-1002, essentially re-fueling the satellite and providing it a new engine for control.The companies hit a turning point in the growing organization of maintenance satellites while in space. That satellite was in a “graveyard orbit,” suggesting it was no longer supplying services, however MEV-1 restored it and moved the satellite back into position.The MEV-2 spacecraft, while similar to MEV-1, took that objective an action even more by docking and extending the life of a satellite presently in service. Northern Sky Research, a satellite consulting company, approximates that the market for satellite servicing and life extensions is a $3.2 billion opportunity over the next decade.The company forecasts that there is demand for servicing upward of 75 satellites by 2030, with business and governments looking to extend the life expectancy of typically expensive geosynchronous equatorial orbit satellites, rather than launch replacements.

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