Press Release

Orbital Recovery Gives Go-ahead for its ConeXpress Space Tug; Production to Start in September, First Launch Planned in 2007

By SpaceRef Editor
March 29, 2004
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Paris, France; London, England; Leiden, Holland, March 29, 2004 — Orbital Recovery Ltd. has formally initiated the development of its ConeXpress ORS space tug in a program leading to the start of full-scale production this September, and the first launch in 2007.

The go-ahead was confirmed by last week’s initiation of the Phase B1 leading to preliminary design review, which is backed by private and European Space Agency funding for the Dutch Space-led industrial team.   ESA is participating through its ARTES 4 public-private partnership program, in which the multinational organization provides matching funds for the spacecraft’s development.

“We are delighted to have passed this extremely important milestone, which had moved the company from its pre-operating phase into the mainstream,” said Philip Braden, the Chief Executive Officer of Orbital Recovery Ltd.  “Our industrial team — which includes Arianespace, the German Space Agency, Kayser-Threde and others — is now in place, and is fully involved in the development activity.”

The marketing campaign for ConeXpress ORS also is moving into full swing, with discussions underway with several operators for early missions of the space tug.  Allocation of flight opportunities has begun, and the initial launch slots are in the process of being assigned, Braden added.

When operational, ConeXpress ORS 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.

ConeXpress’ ORS primary mission 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 also can be used to rescue spacecraft that have become stranded during orbital positioning maneuvers. 

Holland’s Dutch Space was selected last November as the ConeXpress ORS prime contractor.  This decision that followed an international survey of candidate space hardware manufacturers.

Dutch Space will build the space tug based on a design it conceived for the payload adapter used on every mission of Arianespace’s Ariane 5 launcher.  This enables flight-proven hardware to serve as the structure for ConeXpress ORS, and ensures regular launch opportunities on Ariane 5. 

ConeXpress ORS is designed to easily mate with all telecommunications spacecraft now in space or on the drawing boards. 

After launch, the space tug will rendezvous with the target telecommunications satellite, approaching it from below for docking.  ConeXpress ORS will link up with the satellite using docking and robotic technology developed in cooperation with Germany’s DLR Institute for Robotics and Mechatronics.  Aon Space is providing insurance brokering and risk management services.

Orbital Recovery Ltd. is an international company with its main office in London, England.  More information on Orbital Recovery Ltd. is available on its Web site:

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Press & media contact:

Jeffrey Lenorovitz

The InfoWEST Group

Media relations agency for Orbital Recovery Ltd.

U.S. tel:   +1 703 560-6330

U.S. mobile:  +1 703 615-3646

Int’l GSM: +33 (0)6 80 85 86 25


SpaceRef staff editor.