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  • Satellite Evolution Group

Orbit Fab RAFTI fueling ports flight qualified and ready for in-space and launch site fueling


Orbit Fab announced its RAFTI™ (Rapidly Attachable Fluid Transfer Interface) fueling port is the first refueling interface to be flight qualified. Following years of development, RAFTI has successfully completed a battery of stringent qualification tests and is ready for launch site fueling and in-space refueling of satellites of any size, including the biggest national security, civil, and commercial spacecraft.


RAFTI shipments are underway and accelerating on the heels of rigorous evaluations, as dozens of commercial and government missions adopt and integrate the refueling standard aboard spacecraft scheduled for launch beginning next year.


Orbit Fab also unveiled its new RAFTI Ground Coupling™ (RGC™), a ground infrastructure interface that enables spacecraft operators, manufacturers, and payload processing facilities to replace typical fill-and-drain service valves with RAFTI for secure and reliable ground fueling at the launch site and future in-space refueling.


“We are thrilled to report RAFTI has passed flight qualification testing and is now shipping to commercial and government satellite operators ahead of key defense and in-space service missions set to begin next year,” said Daniel Faber, Orbit Fab Founder and CEO. “Orbit Fab and our accomplished engineering team has cracked the in-space refueling code and set the industry refueling standard with RAFTI, which was developed in strict compliance with critical Space Force and NASA requirements. RAFTI is a robust solution that has cleared hundreds of ground and in-space fueling cycles with both fail-safe and safe-fail conditions during all mission phases and within an architecture that achieves the lowest cost fuel delivery.”


The breakthrough development of the next-generation RAFTI Fueling Port and RAFTI Ground Coupling (RGC) incorporates input from hundreds of suppliers, partners, and customers. Orbit Fab enables satellite operators and payload processing facilities to integrate RAFTI and RGC into their operations well ahead of planned in-space missions. RAFTI can now serve as a dual-purpose replacement for ground fueling infrastructure at the launch site.


Satellite operators and manufacturers and launch providers can purchase Orbit Fab’s RAFTI fueling port for $30,000 USD to facilitate in-space and launch site fueling. A single RAFTI, with its built-in propellant and pressurant valves, can provide the ground fueling capabilities of two separate fill-and-drain valves, making RAFTI the clear, affordable choice for ground fueling infrastructure and space refueling.


Orbit Fab’s historic flight qualification success follows years of development, flight testing on Orbit Fab’s Tenzing mission, and months of thermal, vibration, and other critical milestones. RAFTI is the first satellite refueling interface to be flight qualified, achieving a TRL-8 (technology readiness level) rating that demonstrates its ability to operate optimally in the harsh and extreme conditions of space.


“Orbit Fab’s RAFTI qualification success marks the beginning of the in-space refueling era with a proven interface standard that has been thoroughly vetted and refined to operate aboard spacecraft of any size in the harsh and extreme conditions in space,” explained Adam Harris, Orbit Fab’s Chief Commercial Officer. “Now that our RAFTI fueling ports are ready for space, Orbit Fab expects to produce about 100 RAFTIs this year. Orbit Fab is in discussions with several qualified companies who intend to manufacture and sell RAFTI under licensing agreements, making it available for purchase from multiple vendors.”


The licensing agreements will accelerate RAFTI production and delivery to meet commercial and government market demand, while Orbit Fab focuses on propellant sales and GRIP production for in-space fuel delivery shuttles.


Three Space Force Tetra-5 program satellites will be among the first to have Orbit Fab RAFTI fueling ports during a first-of-its-kind refueling operation next year. An Orbit Fab fuel depot complete with its GRIP™ active docking and fluid transfer mechanism will lock on the satellite’s RAFTI fueling port, create a fluid connection and securely replenish the satellite in orbit.


The Space Force Tetra-5 refueling mission in GEO is just one of many named and yet-to-be-named commercial and government missions that have selected Orbit Fab to provide RAFTIs and GRIPs for their spacecraft ground and on-orbit fueling operations. The DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) has contracted with Orbit Fab for the first in-space fuel sale in GEO and has selected Orbit Fab’s RAFTI fueling port and GRIP docking and fluid transfer mechanism as part of its RAPIDS Refueling and Fuel Depot initiative.


The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) program for an Orbit Fab developed docking depot will also leverage RAFTI and GRIP during demonstration missions funded by the US Space Force.


On the commercial front, Astroscale is equipping its Life Extension In-Orbit (LEXI) Servicer spacecraft with RAFTI for spacecraft life extension missions scheduled to start as soon as 2026. Orbit Fab’s RAFTI and GRIP will enable the Astroscale Prototype Servicer for Refueling (APS-R) spacecraft to conduct multiple refueling missions in GEO by 2026.


Orbit Fab and ClearSpace signed a strategic partnership to leverage their complementary capabilities and missions to accelerate the availability of propellants in space by creating a refueling service architecture pairing an Orbit Fab fuel depot with a ClearSpace shuttle. This builds upon their existing work together under the United Kingdom Space Agency (UKSA)-funded mission for a refuelable Active Debris Removal mission, which has also adopted the RAFTI interface.


For more information visit: www.orbitfab.com.


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