Latest News


By | March 12, 2007

      Orbital Express Spacecraft Servicing Vehicle Launched

      The Orbital Express spacecraft launched at night from space launch complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., The Boeing Co. [BA] announced.

      Orbital Express, to help develop what essentially would be cosmic roadside servicing trucks to fix satellites in orbit, was lofted by a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket into low-Earth orbit. ULA is a joint consortium of Boeing and Lockheed Martin Corp. [LMT] to provide launch services.

      The demonstration spacecraft is part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program aimed at demonstrating fully autonomous on-orbit spacecraft servicing capabilities.

      The three-month mission will demonstrate functions of the new system.

      “Orbital Express is a revolutionary system that will offer customers with appropriately configured on-orbit assets new options to enhance the operation of their systems,” said George Muellner, president of Boeing Advanced Systems. “This demonstration mission is the first step toward developing an operational system that can service satellites and support other space operations.”

      Orbital Express consists of the Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO) servicing spacecraft developed by Boeing Advanced Network and Space Systems; and NextSat, a prototypical modular next-generation serviceable client spacecraft developed by Ball Aerospace.

      The demonstration mission will validate capabilities critical for the development of emerging and future space systems.

      When operational, the new integrated rendezvous proximity operations and capture system will provide satellite and spacecraft operators with a routine on-orbit servicing capability for such things as fuel and component transfer, relocation, inspection, safe de-orbit and on-orbit assembly.

      Major test objectives include:

      • Autonomous operations, including rendezvous from 7 km (4.35 miles) with a capability to support rendezvous at separation distances up to 1,000 km (621.4 miles) and beyond

      • Onboard relative navigation and guidance systems

      • Robotic arm system

      • Multiple captures of the NextSat client spacecraft performed directly and using the robotic arm

      • Sub-meter range autonomous station-keeping

      • Fluid and component transfer

      • Passive, targetless rendezvous sensor systems

      DARPA selected Boeing as the prime integrator for Phase II of the Orbital Express Advanced Technology Demonstration program in March 2002.

      Orbital Express team members include NASA, Ball Aerospace, Northrop Grumman Corp. [NOC] unit Space Technology, MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd., the Charles Stark Draper Laboratory Inc., and Starsys Research.

      DemoFlight2 Launch Is March 19-22, SpaceX Announces

      The long-awaited DemoFlight2 launch is now set for March 19 to 22, SpaceX announced.

      During extended ground testing in late February, a second stage thrust vector control board indicated a problem.

      Although analysis showed substantial margin for flight, SpaceX announced it decided nonetheless to increase the robustness of certain of the components and run a delta qualification.

      Upgraded boards will be installed this week.

      If all goes well, Falcon 1 will do a static fire this week and then launch next week, the company announced.

      Arianespace To Launch Spaceway 3

      Arianespace will launch the Spaceway 3 communications satellite for Hughes.

      An Ariane 5 launch vehicle will deliver the satellite to geostationary transfer orbit from Europe’s spaceport at the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana, in August.

      Hughes Network Systems, LLC (Hughes) will operate the all Ka-band Spaceway 3 satellite as part of its new broadband satellite network that will provide multimedia services throughout North America. It includes on-board switching and spot beams, which will enable on-demand services.

      Built by The Boeing Co. [BA] unit Boeing Satellites Systems, Inc., Spaceway 3 will weigh approximately 6 000 kilograms (13,230 pounds) at lift-off.

      Arianespace Scores Double Launch For Skynet 5A and Insat 4B

      Arianespace last night placed two satellites into geostationary transfer orbit.

      They are the military communications satellite Skynet 5A for the British Ministry of Defense and the civil communications satellite Insat 4B for the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO).

      It was the 31st Ariane 5 launch, and the 17th success in a row, according to Arianespace.

      Telenor-Intelsat Deal

      Telenor Satellite Services expanded a multi-year contract with Intelsat to include transmission services on three different spacecraft in C- and Ku-band.

      The capacity is being used for the Telenor Sealink maritime high-speed data communications solution through its Eik Teleport in Norway.

      Through this agreement, Telenor renewed its contract on the Intelsat 903 and Intelsat 704 satellites for C-band capacity connectivity in the Atlantic Ocean region and Indian Ocean region respectively and in addition began using Ku-band capacity on the Intelsat 907 satellite for North Sea and Atlantic Ocean distribution.

      Leave a Reply