Satellite servicing industry group works on series of standards

A satellite servicing industry group is making development on a series of standards that it considers can aid allow the growth of the emerging field.

In a presentation at its Global Satellite Servicing Forum on 29th September, Brian Weeden says three standards are in various stages of development. This is in order to encourage a “thriving and sustainable” satellite servicing industry. Brian is the executive director of the Consortium for Execution of Rendezvous and Servicing Operations (CONFERS).

Similar standards in other industries, from automobiles to smartphones, have facilitated the growth of an ecosystem of firms and products. This is while also enhancing safety and reliability. “We do not have any of that for satellites, in large part since we do not have standards,” he says.

The first of those standards classify a set of principles and greatest practices for satellite servicing that CONFERS established. This is covering concerns such as –
  • Compliance with relevant laws and regulations
  • Responsible operations

Weeden says CONFERS is revising those documents in the next month that indicate minor changes on the basis of lessons understood from recent satellite servicing activities.

That standard will be under the horizon of the International Organization for Standardization, or ISO. It is formally assigned ISO 24330. “They are applying the CONFERS principles and practices as the starting point for what is going to be the planet’s first satellite servicing standard,” he says. Several governments and industry specialists are working on the document, which he says should be completed by the end of this year or the start of 2022.

A second standard, the progress of which began earlier this year, is about fiducials, or markings on spacecraft used in order to help proximity operations. Those fiducials can facilitate a servicing vehicle in order to identify and properly deal with a spacecraft.

Work lately began on the third standard including refueling interfaces on spacecraft. “A standardized refueling interface is something that several satellite makers and consumers say they would like to see. This is in order to build a market for in-space refueling,” he says. CONFERS has set up a committee in order to define what that standard would be. He anticipates approaching a standards improvement organization by early 2022.

NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Melroy aided well-known CONFERS. This is when she was deputy director of DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office. She gave her assistance behind standards development in a talk at the conference on 29th September.


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