April 16, 2024

News and Political Commentary

NASA shuts down Maxar-led OSAM-1 satellite refueling project

2 min read

A “grapple test” of the OSAM-1 spacecraft’s robotic servicing arm.


NASA is shutting down a $2 billion project to test satellite refueling in space, it announced Friday, after the agency’s auditor criticized the program’s lead contractor, Maxar, citing “poor performance.”

The space agency said in a statement that the OSAM-1 — On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1 — project was being discontinued after nearly a decade of work.

NASA cited “continued technical, cost, and schedule challenges, and a broader community evolution away from refueling unprepared spacecraft, which has led to a lack of a committed partner” in a statement.

“While we are disappointed by the decision to discontinue the program, we are committed to supporting NASA in pursuing potential new partnerships or alternative hardware uses as they complete the shutdown,” Maxar Space Systems spokesperson Eric Glass said in a statement to CNBC.

NASA did not respond to CNBC’s request for comment on how many personnel will be affected as a result of OSAM-1’s cancellation.

Maxar was taken private by private equity firm Advent International in May 2023 before being split into two businesses: Maxar Intelligence, focused on satellite imagery and analytics, and Maxar Space Systems, focused on spacecraft manufacturing.

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NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland was leading the work on OSAM-1, with Maxar Space Systems as the project’s prime contractor under multiple deals. OSAM-1 has been in development since 2015, with the goal of docking with the U.S.-owned Landsat 7 imagery satellite in orbit, to repair and refuel the aging spacecraft to extend its life.

But OSAM-1 has fallen years behind schedule, while the program’s cost to NASA soared. In a scathing October report, NASA’s Inspector General “found that project cost increases and schedule delays were primarily due to the poor performance of Maxar,” while noting that…

2024-03-01 16:09:09

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