Speaker Interview: Joe Anderson, Vice President of Operations and Business Development at SpaceLogistics LLC

 Hi Joe, could you please tell us a little bit more about your position with Joe AndersonSpaceLogistics?

I am the Vice President of Operations and Business Development at SpaceLogistics. SpaceLogistics is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman and is responsible for delivering the on-orbit servicing products and services developed by the company. In this role, I am responsible for establishing our business strategy, development of requirements for our products and services in addition to selling, insuring and licensing the assets we own and services we offer.


You will participate in the On-orbit Servicing panel on Tuesday May 19. 2020 is gearing up to be an exciting year for on-orbit servicing (OOS) – what are you looking forward to most?

2020 will be a historic year for On-orbit servicing and SpaceLogistics. SpaceLogistics launched our first satellite servicing vehicle, called the Mission Extension Vehicle-1, on October 9, 2019. Since then it has been performing its orbit raising and in-orbit check outs.  We anticipate our initial rendezvous and docking with our first client vehicle, Intelsat IS-901, in the 1st quarter of 2020. As the first in-orbit rendezvous and docking between two commercial vehicles, this will be a truly historic event. After docking with the IS-901, we will bring the combined vehicle stack with IS-901 back into service at a new orbital location over the Atlantic Ocean Region where it will continue to service Intelsat customers for the next 5 years.

I am also looking forward to the launch of our second Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV-2) which is planned around mid-year 2020. This MEV will be docking with the Intelsat IS-1002 satellite near the end of 2020 to provide a similar 5 year life extension service.

In 2020, we also hope to be formally announcing our official authorization to proceed with the development and launch of our next generation system. This system consists of a Mission Robotic Vehicle that will install small propulsion augmentation devices onto existing in-orbit satellites and commercially perform other robotic services in GEO orbits.


There is a growing interest in servicing missions from government and commercial organizations alike. How do you envision OOS will impact the way future satellite (constellations) are developed and procured?

Once we have a persistent robotic satellite servicing capability in GEO, we anticipate that the next incremental step in GEO satellite design will be to incorporate features that will enable repair and augmentation such as ports to add additional fuel tanks or refuelling, and a Universal Satellite Bus (USB) port that would provide structure, power, and data interfaces for “plugging” in replacement or augmentation components. Looking a bit further into the future I foresee this leading to complete in-orbit assembly and manufacturing of satellites.


Which advancements in technology are still required in order to lift servicing missions to the next level? For example, in the field of robotics, antennas or docking systems?

I believe the key development required to help this new field to expand to the next level will be establishment of the refuelling (tank replacement or pumping) and augmentation interfaces (USB Ports). Then it will be complete re-thinking of satellite design when the launch constraints are removed, and satellites can be assembled and manufactured in orbit.


In terms of industry news, what development, announcement or otherwise has stood out most to you in the past year and why?

The historic launch of our first of its kind Mission Extension Vehicle really stands out for me because of the potential it has to unlock a completely new paradigm in space. It has been talked about, dreamed about for decades with many demonstration missions that never advanced beyond their demos and start up failures. Thanks to Northrop Grumman, we have redefined what is possible, and these dreams are now reality.


If you could have one historical figure over to dinner, who would it be and why?

I have never really given this much thought before you asked, but with just a few moments to consider all of history, I keep coming back to Leonardo da Vinci. He fascinates me because his works were so far ahead of his time, and the scope, breadth, and extent of his work was so immense. I think it would be fascinating to speak with him about his motivations and the processes he used for developing his ideas. I also think it would be fascinating to see what he would work on and develop if he were alive today.

Hear Joe speak at Space Tech Conference, May 19-20, 2020 in Long Beach, CA. View the agenda and register for your free pass here.