The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's Orbital Express spacecraft have successfully transferred fluids and a battery, and separated from their mated launch configuration then re-mated.

Launched on 8 March, Orbital Express is a three-month mission to demonstrate the first fully autonomous rendezvous and capture of a client spacecraft, satellite-to-satellite refuelling, and in-orbit replacement of battery and flight-computer units.

The Boeing-designed Autonomous Space Transfer and Robotic Orbiter (ASTRO) has transferred 14.5kg (31.9lb) of hydrazine liquid and a battery, using a robotic arm, to its client, the Ball Aerospace-built Next Generation Satellite (NextSat).

On 17 April the two craft separated for the first time. NextSat was then grasped by ASTRO's capture mechanism and the two spacecraft returned to a mated configuration for characterisation and calibration of ASTRO's rendezvous and capture sensors.

Boeing's CubeSat TestBed 1 pico-satellite, weighing less than 0.9kg and developed to evaluate miniature spacecraft technologies, has been launched by Dnepr rocket from Baikonur in Kazakhstan.

Source: Flight International