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Intelsat-901 as seen by the MEV-1 spacecraft. Photo: Northrop Grumman

A satellite has been returned to service thanks to a new kind of spacecraft designed to bring defunct satellites back to life, Intelsat and Northrop Grumman announced Friday.

Why it matters: This milestone marks some of the first proof that this kind of satellite servicing could work in the long run, extending the lives of expensive spacecraft and reducing the amount of junk in orbit.

Details: Northrop Grumman's MEV-1 servicing spacecraft linked up with the Intelsat-901 communications satellite in February.

  • Since then, MEV-1 has moved the satellite in orbit and brought it back into service for Intelsat, with 30 customers on the ground now using the satellite.
  • MEV-1 is expected to stay attached to Intelsat-901 for the next five years, at which point it will be able to detach and possibly move on to service another spacecraft.

The big picture: A number of companies are looking to make money by servicing satellites or cleaning up junk in orbit.

  • However, it's not yet clear exactly who's responsible for cleaning up orbital debris, possibly complicating the business propositions for these companies.
  • According to an estimate from Northern Sky Research, the on-orbit servicing market could reach as much as $4.5 billion in revenue by 2028.

Go deeper

Updated 17 mins ago - World

Myanmar's deposed leader Aung San Suu Kyi sentenced to 4 years in prison

An anti-coup protest in Yangon, Myanmar.Photo: Hkun Lat/Getty Images

A Myanmar court sentenced the country's ousted leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on Monday to four years in prison on charges of "inciting public unrest" and breaking COVID-19 protocols, per the New York Times.

Why it matters: It's the first of several verdicts that could result in the 76-year-old Nobel laureate being imprisoned for the rest of her life.

2 hours ago - World

Pope Francis denounces European governments' migrant response

Pope Francis adresses refugees at the Reception and Identification Centre (RIC) in Mytilene on the island of Lesbos on Sunday. Photo: Louisa Gouliamaki/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Pope Francis criticized European countries' response to migrants and asylum seekers during his visit to a refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos Sunday.

Why it matters: The pope said "migration is a humanitarian crisis that concerns everyone," but little had changed in the global response to displaced peoples since his first visit to Lesbos five years ago, per a transcript of his remarks. "Human lives, real people, are at stake. ... let us stop this shipwreck of civilization!"

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."