The process took awhile, but the pace seems to have picked up and is moving forward so that standards for cooperative on-orbit servicing can be determined.
The Secure World Foundation (SWF) is part of a team that recently won a contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to help address the lack of standards for cooperative on-orbit servicing.
In November 2016, DARPA released a request for proposal for the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS) Program. On October 3, 2017, a team consisting of SWF, the University of Southern California’s Space Engineering Research Center (SERC), and the Space Infrastructure Foundation (SIF), and led by Advanced Technology International (ATI), was awarded the initial phase of a multi-year contract to establish the Consortium.
The CONFERS Formation Committee has approved the Articles of Collaboration that set the structure and framework for the Consortium. The Formation Committee was comprised of six companies with key business and technical activities related to cooperative on-orbit satellite servicing (OOS) and rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO) in space. The Formation Committee worked with the CONFERS Secretariat to develop the Articles of Collaboration that will establish the core structure, member rights and obligations, and processes of the Consortium.
Mike Gold, Vice President, Regulatory and Policy for Maxar Technologies said that the Formation Committee provided a key first step in developing common practices that will advance the satellite servicing industry and they at SSL and Maxar were excited to participate.
The six companies represented in the Formation Committee are: Airbus Defence and Space; Chandah Space Technologies; Intelsat General Corporation; Orbital ATK; SSL (a business unit of Maxar Technologies); and XLCatlin. They represent a cross section of international firms involved in building, providing, receiving, and insuring OOS and RPO activities. Their charter was to create an optimal collaboration environment in which colleagues and competitors alike can work together as an effective multi-stakeholder Consortium.
Aurélien Pisseloup, Space Tug Business Acquisition Manager at Airbus said that Airbus looks forward to working with industry colleagues from across the international space community to provide a strong foundation in establishing CONFERS. It is of critical importance to develop an effective collaborative framework that supports the goal of developing industry consensus on shared principles and standards.
CONFERS seeks to establish an industry-led forum where industry and other stakeholders can collaborate to research, develop, and publish non-binding, consensus-derived technical and safety standards to enable and enhance future on-orbit satellite maintenance, servicing, and rendezvous operations.