Press Release

Orbital Recovery Completes the Funding for its CX OLEV Space Tug With a Team of European Space Industry Leaders

By SpaceRef Editor
November 11, 2004
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Orbital Recovery Completes the Funding for its CX OLEV Space Tug With a Team of European Space Industry Leaders

London, England, November 11, 2004– Orbital Recovery Ltd. has completed its second round financing for the ConeXpress Orbital Life Extension Vehicle (CX OLEV™), marking a major program milestone that allows production of the first “space tug” to begin in early 2005, followed by the initial operational mission approximately 36 months later.

The company is now fully funded with the addition of major European industrial investors — the Swedish Space Corporation and SENER of Spain.  These companies join Dutch Space of The Netherlands, which became the lead investor of the company in April.

Also contributing is the European Space Agency, which has co-funded the definition phases of the CX OLEV initiative in its ARTES 4 Public-Private Partnership programme.

“We are delighted to welcome the Swedish Space Corporation and SENER to our consortium, making our company fully funded,” said Orbital Recovery Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Phil Braden.  “This core industrial team brings extensive experience and provides us access to the very best in European technology and know-how.”

“With only days to go until SMART-1 lunar capture, it is an exciting prospect to be able to bring that experience to bear on an innovative and challenging European commercial venture,” said Swedish Space Corporation CEO Claes-Göran Borg. “We look forward to contributing to its success.”

“The CX OLEV project is a technological challenge and we are extremely pleased to participate in it as an industrial shareholder” said Alvaro Azcárraga, SENER Managing Director of the Space Department. This concept introduces a revolutionary new way of doing business for the telecom operators.”

“This is one of the rare occasions to unlock a novel commercial space market niche in a public private partnership approach,” said Ben Spee, Chief Executive Officer of Dutch Space.

The CX OLEV will serve as an orbital “tugboat” – providing the propulsion, navigation and guidance required to maintain telecommunications satellites in their proper orbits for years beyond the normal fuel depletion.

Primary mission of the CX OLEV will be to prolong the in-service lifetimes of expensive geostationary orbit telecommunications satellites, which currently are junked when their on-board fuel supply runs out. The space tug will also be equipped for other essential services to operators, such as providing the graveyard burn or effect plane changes for inclined satellites. 

Orbital Recovery Ltd. has identified more than 70 telecommunications satellites in orbit today that are candidates for life extension using the CX OLEV. 

Swedish Space Corporation will develop the spacecraft telemetry, tracking and command (TT&C) subsystem and contribute to the on-board data handling design using its experience that includes the European SMART-1 lunar exploration probe. Additionally, the ground control station(s) and CX OLEV Mission Operations will be provided by the Swedish Space Corporation.

SENER will develop the CX OLEV’s attitude and orbit control subsystem (AOCS), which includes both the rendezvous phase as well as the orbit and station keeping of the target spacecraft after docking with the CX OLEV. This company is now responsible for Planck satellite AOCS, and participates in the design for this subsystem in Herschel and GALILEO.

Dutch Space is the prime contractor for the CX OLEV’s spacecraft development and production.  In a unique approach to spacecraft development, the company will build the CX OLEV based on a payload adapter that is used on every mission of the Ariane 5 launcher. This allows flight-proven hardware to serve as the structure for the spacecraft, and opens regular launch opportunities for the space tug on Ariane 5.

Orbital Recovery Ltd. signed a long-term, exclusive launch services contract in May with Arianespace, covering the initial three flights of the CX OLEV on Ariane 5.  Additional launches will be ordered in sets of three missions.

For additional information on Orbital Recovery Ltd. and the CX OLEV, see the company’s Web site at:

Press & media contact:

Jeffrey Lenorovitz
The InfoWEST Group
Media relations agency for Orbital Recovery Corporation
Tel: +1 703 560-6330
U.S. mobile: +1 703 615-3646
International GSM: +33 (0)6 80 85 86 25

SpaceRef staff editor.