15 April 2008 NextSat on-orbit experiences
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Abstract
The NextSat spacecraft was designed and built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. as part of the DARPA-funded Orbital Express mission. Orbital Express, launched in March of 2007, was a highly successful demonstration mission proving the feasibility of autonomous on-orbit refueling and servicing of spacecraft. The Orbital Express mission consisted of the Ball-built NextSat/CSC satellite and the Boeing-built ASTRO satellite. Both satellites launched mated into a 492km circular orbit on board a Lockheed-Martin Atlas V 401 launch vehicle from Cape Canaveral. The NextSat satellite acted as both the next generation "serviceable" satellite and the commodities satellite. This paper discusses the on-orbit mission experiences of the NextSat satellite. Key experiences include: launch and early orbit operations in which the NextSat satellite was called on to perform critical attitude control functions for the mated stack, functionality which was never tested or planned for; autonomous fluid transfers between ASTRO and NextSat; autonomous ORU transfers between ASTRO and NextSat; autonomous separation, free-flying and rendezvous operations; and end-of-life operations.
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Christopher R. Randall, Christopher R. Randall, Bradley S. Porter, Bradley S. Porter, Catherine Stokley, Catherine Stokley, Kenneth Epstein, Kenneth Epstein, David Kaufman, David Kaufman, } "NextSat on-orbit experiences", Proc. SPIE 6958, Sensors and Systems for Space Applications II, 695807 (15 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.782813; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.782813
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