NASA scraps satellite refueling project after contractor criticism

After an independent review, NASA decided to close the OSAM-1 project to refuel satellites in orbit. This is stated in the official report of the agency.

NASA explained that the decision was due to technical, cost, and time issues. It was also affected by the lack of an interested partner. At the same time, UPI noted that the project’s cost exceeded $2 billion.

The company in question is Maxar, which has already announced its readiness to help NASA find other options for using OSAM-1 equipment after the project is scaled back.

“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,” a spokesperson for the company said in a commentary for CNBC.

OSAM-1 has been under development since 2015 to assist the US Landsat 7 satellite by refueling and repairing it in orbit to extend its service life. The Goddard Space Flight Center led the project, and Maxar Space Systems was its prime contractor.

NASA hoped that the program would demonstrate that its maintenance technologies could be used in other agency missions. They were also supposed to be transferred for use by commercial entities.

However, the audit revealed that OSAM-1 exceeded its planned budget of $2.05 billion and would not meet its December 2026 launch date. The responsibility for this was put on “Maxar’s poor performance”.