I was reading Politico's Biden’s space policy: One giant leap for climate change and some algorithm embedded a "Learn more about MEV; Northrop Grumman" advertisement in the story. (screenshot of advertisement; I have no affiliation whatsoever)
The video below shows a cool activity! A communications satellite in GEO moves itself to GEO Graveyard and MEV rendezvous with it, inspects it at a distance, matches the orbit, moves 1 meter away, and then docks using the original satellite's engine and bell.
But what bothers me is the placement of MEV's ion engines on long articulated "sticks" extending far away from the spacecraft's center of mass seeming to invite unwanted torque and vibration issues, and yet an articulated electric thruster might also provide some really handy advantages!
Question: How does MEV use its "ion thruster on a stick" technology? What are the advantages of and technical challenges to putting them out there rather than mounting them on the body of the spacecraft?
- Thrust vectoring for ion propulsion - any plans or current research?
- Northrop Grumman's Space Logistics Services page
- and their press release: Northrop Grumman Successfully Completes Historic First Docking of Mission Extension Vehicle with Intelsat 901 Satellite
Screenshot from Northrop Grumman's Mission Extension Pods (MEPs) showing two versions of "thrusters on sticks" technology being deployed
01:05 in video: