Furphy: Satellite Refueling Technology

Mission Stats

Product: Validation of Furphy Rigid Tank, Furphy Flexible Tank, and the proprietary RAFTI (Rapidly Attachable Fuel Transfer Interface) capabilities on ISS
On-Orbit Operations: Started May 29, 2019
Project Duration: 11 months
Product Details: Hardware items launched to ISS; successful experiment to show fluid transfer between tanks

Furphy was the first test of the feasibility of transferring fluids in microgravity from a rigid tank to a flexible tank for the purpose of validating refueling capabilities of satellites in orbit. Orbit Fab’s mission is to make it possible to fuel small satellites in orbit instead of prior to launch saving launch mass and volume and enabling longer use of satellites for future space exploration.

Key Accomplishments:
  • ThinkSpace accelerated hardware launch timeline and safety reviews to enable Furphy to launch hardware in 2018 and conduct experiment operations in 2019, less than one year after receiving initial funding.  This met ambitious startup funding goals and secured additional stage funding for Orbit Fab.
  • Orbit Fab became the first private company to supply the ISS with water using its own proprietary refueling equipment and processes.
  • Developed novel ways to utilize existing water and pump systems on ISS for Furphy experiment.  This led to multiple new uses of the water system on station as well as supporting successful validation flight operations for Furphy.
  •  Orbit Fab raised $6M in seed funding using the success of the Furphy experiment and plans to launch their first tanker satellite, Tanker-001 Tenzing, in 2021.

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