April 22, 2024

Brighton Journal

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

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

“Continuing technical, cost, and schedule challenges, and the broader community's evolution away from refueling un-equipped spacecraft, have resulted in a lack of a committed partner,” NASA noted in a statement.

“While we are disappointed in the decision to discontinue the program, we are committed to supporting NASA in pursuing potential new partnerships or alternative uses for the hardware while the shutdown process is completed,” Maxar Space Systems spokesman Eric Glass said in a statement to CNBC.

NASA did not respond to CNBC's request for comment on how many employees would be affected as a result of the OSAM-1 cancellation.

Private equity firm Advent International acquired Maxar in May 2023 before splitting it into two companies: Maxar Intelligence, which focuses on satellite imagery and analysis, and Maxar Space Systems, which focuses on spacecraft manufacturing.

NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland was leading work on OSAM-1, and Maxar Space Systems was the prime contractor for the project under multiple deals. OSAM-1 has been in development since 2015, with the aim of docking with the US-owned Landsat 7 satellite in orbit, repairing the aging spacecraft and refueling it to extend its life.

But OSAM-1 is years behind schedule, while the cost of the program to NASA has soared. In sting October reportNASA's inspector general found “that project cost increases and schedule delays were primarily due to poor Maxar performance,” noting that the agency's Goddard Center also suffered from key parts of the development.

“NASA and Maxar officials acknowledged that Maxar underestimated the scope and complexity of the work, lacked a full understanding of NASA's technical requirements, and lacked the necessary expertise,” NASA's inspector general said in his report, after a year-long audit.

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The agency's auditor noted that OSAM-1 would likely “exceed its current price tag of $2.05 billion and its December 2026 launch date,” which was already six years behind schedule. The company “no longer benefits from its work on OSAM-1,” the report noted, citing Maxar representatives, and, from NASA's perspective, no longer appears to be “a top priority for Maxar in terms of the quality of its employees.” “

NASA's cancellation of OSAM-1 comes months later Maxar has delivered key segments From the spacecraft to Goddard in Maryland – but other key parts are not yet complete.

Satellite servicing is an emerging subsector of the space industry that has only recently begun to prove successful, with Northrop Grumman's expansion missions representing an early effort.