This is an archived web site made available for research purposes. The page is no longer being updated or maintained.

Tactical Technology Office Banner

 

 


Orbital Express Space Operations Architecture

Lt Col Fred Kennedy, USAF
 

Orbital Express



Overview

The goal of the Orbital Express Space Operations Architecture program is to validate the technical feasibility of robotic, autonomous onorbit refueling and reconfiguration of satellites to support a broad range of future U.S. national security and commercial space programs. Refueling satellites will enable frequent maneuver to improve coverage, change arrival times to counter denial and deception and improve survivability, as well as extend satellite lifetime. Electronics upgrades on-orbit can provide regular performance improvements and dramatically reduce the time to deploy new technology on-orbit. The Orbital Express advanced technology demonstration will design, develop and test on-orbit a prototype servicing satellite (ASTRO) and a surrogate next generation serviceable satellite (NextSat). The elements of the Orbital Express demonstration, coordinated with Air Force Space Command and Air Force Space and Missile Command, will be tied together by non-proprietary satellite servicing interfaces (mechanical, electrical, etc.) that will facilitate the development of an industry wide on-orbit servicing infrastructure. NASA will apply the sensors and software developed for autonomous rendezvous and proximity operations to reduce risk for collaborative human-robotic operations in space for the NASA Exploration Initiative. Launch of the demonstration system is scheduled for March 7, 2007 on the Air Force Space Test Program STP-1 mission.

  • Video of the global mated survey of the two spacecraft by the arm camera, March 28, 2007. The video was created from 1,600 still pictures taken by the camera. Video (24MB .mpeg format)
  • Orbital Express On-orbit pictures (March 30, 2007)
 
          Pictures: Orbital Express Post Integration Inspection (Credit: Ball Aerospace)
 

Orbital Express Post Integration Inspection
Click for High Res
picture


Orbital Express Post Integration Inspection
Click for High Res
picture

Boeing technicians perform a post integration inspection of the DARPA Orbital Express program at Astrotech Space Operations in Titusville, Florida.

         Artist’s Concept: Orbital Express in Orbit (Credit: Boeing)
 

Orbital Express in Orbit
Click for High Res
picture

 

Artist’s illustration of the DARPA Orbital Express spacecraft in orbit. The Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO) servicing spacecraft is on the left, and approaching the NextSat, a surrogate next generation serviceable satellite, and preparing to rendezvous and dock. Boeing is the prime integrator for the Orbital Express program and builder of the ASTRO spacecraft. Ball Aerospace constructed NextSat. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the program sponsor.
 
       Artist’s Concept: On-Orbit Demo (Credit: Boeing) (Click Here)