It is no longer sustainable for operators to throw away depleted spacecraft and build replacements to fill in the gaps. It’s difficult enough operating a satellite at a fixed position in Geostationary Orbit (GEO).
Prime real estate spots are limited, prone to physical disturbance and interference, and heavily regulated.
The main reason that operators retire dozens of satellites to graveyard orbits every year is because they simply run out of fuel. To state the obvious, the ability to re-fuel in orbit saves an incredible amount of time and money.
What’s not so obvious is what operators would do with their re-purposed assets. Are recycled satellites merely gap-fillers, revenue generators, or both?
In one of the biggest satellite manufacturing acquisitions in recent memory, Northrop Grumman bought Orbital ATK last year and inherited its state-of-the-art satellite servicing capabilities.