Just three years after it was founded, a Tukwila, Wash.-based startup called Starfish Space is putting the pieces in place to demonstrate how a low-cost satellite can hook up with other spacecraft in orbit.
If next year’s experiment with a prototype satellite called Otter Pup succeeds, that could open the way for a fleet of bigger Otter spacecraft to take on bigger tasks, ranging from satellite servicing to on-orbit spacecraft assembly.
“I always have this vision of an orbital shipyard, where you could go and build the Starship Enterprise and go off and explore strange new worlds, right?” Starfish Space co-founder Trevor Bennett told me.
“I would love to see a future of ‘space Uber,’ where Otters could be up there and be on demand,” he said. “You could imagine texting an Otter to say, ‘Hey, a customer would love to have you over there.’ And then it sends a text back after it’s done its operation and says, ‘I’ve docked — what would you like to do next?’”