KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), April 11, 2023 – Before startup Orbit Fab was founded in 2018, the company’s co-founders asked the space industry a simple question: What could you do with an extra tank of fuel? The response was overwhelming. Orbit Fab set out to build an in-space propellant supply chain: Gas Stations in Space™. But first, they had to validate their technology in microgravity, where the hardware must perform, through experiments sponsored by the International Space Station (ISS) National Laboratory.
The latest issue of Upward, the official magazine of the ISS National Lab, highlights Orbit Fab’s successful hardware tests on the ISS—an investigation that showed the space industry that the company was a real contender to become the leading propellant supplier and refueling servicer in space. The company faced the challenge of designing fuel systems that operate effectively in microgravity. Understanding tank dynamics and pump systems in this environment is critical for developing a sustainable in-space propellant supply chain. The Upward article showcases how Orbit Fab leveraged the ISS National Lab to test its innovative fueling technology and how results provided vital insights to move the technology closer to commercialization.
Upward is dedicated to communicating the results of ISS National Lab-sponsored experiments that demonstrate the value of space-based research and technology development. The article “Refueling the Low Earth Orbit Economy” is a must-read for anyone interested in space exploration and the future of the commercial space industry.
Download a high-resolution photo for this release: Orbit Fab’s Gas Stations in Space
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About the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory: The International Space Station (ISS) is a one-of-a-kind laboratory that enables research and technology development not possible on Earth. As a public service enterprise, the ISS National Lab allows researchers to leverage this multiuser facility to improve life on Earth, mature space-based business models, advance science literacy in the future workforce, and expand a sustainable and scalable market in low Earth orbit. Through this orbiting national laboratory, research resources on the ISS are available to support non-NASA science, technology and education initiatives from U.S. government agencies, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) manages the ISS National Lab, under cooperative agreement with NASA, facilitating access to its permanent microgravity research environment, a powerful vantage point in low Earth orbit, and the extreme and varied conditions of space. To learn more about the ISS National Lab, visit www.ISSNationalLab.org.
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