May 11, 2007 The Boeing Orbital Express system has completed another first by successfully performing a fully autonomous free-flight rendezvous and capture operation. The demonstration of the two-spacecraft system is part of an ongoing Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) mission to validate on-orbit servicing capabilities. Using its onboard cameras and advanced video guidance system, the Boeing Autonomous Space Transport Robotic Operations (ASTRO) servicing spacecraft separated from the NextSat client spacecraft, backed away to a distance of 10 meters (33 feet), maintained proximity flight with NextSat for a full orbit, and then approached and captured NextSat with its docking mechanism. The demonstration occurred at full spacecraft autonomy to mark the first on-orbit rendezvous and capture operation performed with no active exchange of relative navigation information or any intervention or control from the ground.
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