Latest in Science

Image credit: China Daily/via Reuters

China successfully refuels a satellite in orbit

The very rare feat will keep the country's satellites alive for a while longer.
1399 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

China Daily/via Reuters

China is now one of the precious few countries that knows how to refuel satellites in space. The nation's Tianyuan-1 system (launched aboard the Long March 7) has successfully topped up at least one satellite in orbit. Officials aren't describing the process beyond likening it to that for airplanes, but the result is clear: the refueling should help satellites stay in orbit for longer, or make adjustments that would otherwise be impractical.

Refuelling systems could become a non-event in a few years thanks to robotic spacecraft. However, there's a strong incentive to get this technology into space as quickly as possible. If you can keep a satellite in orbit for even a year or two longer, you can save massive amounts of money by reducing the number of vehicles you need to deploy. The move could also help with the fight against space junk by slowing the proliferation of dead or useless satellites. The ultimate goal is to completely avoid fuel in the first place, but efforts like China's represent an important first step.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
1399 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Fossil's latest Wear OS watches now make calls using iPhones

Fossil's latest Wear OS watches now make calls using iPhones

View
Toyota will debut its tiny city EV at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show

Toyota will debut its tiny city EV at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show

View
Adidas readies an entire collection of Star Wars basketball shoes

Adidas readies an entire collection of Star Wars basketball shoes

View
Mercedes app was leaking car owners' data to other users

Mercedes app was leaking car owners' data to other users

View
AT&T hikes TV Now prices by as much as $15 per month

AT&T hikes TV Now prices by as much as $15 per month

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr