DARPA Orbital Express Mission
The two robot satellites that make up the Orbital Express, Astro and NextSat, achieved two historic firsts: 1) the transfer of fuel from one to the other a week after launch; 2) the transfer of a battery through the use of Astro’s 3-meter long robotic arm. Both transfers from Astro to NextSat were successful.
VACCO offers a complete line of human-rated T-0, interstage disconnect couplings, and unique in-space refueling mechanisms for critical launch vehicle and spacecraft applications. With a large number of design types and sizes available, we can provide a heritage product for virtually any application. We offer three families of disconnect couplings:
Typically used on launch vehicles to provide the critical precision link between the vehicle and launch pad operations, the heritage applications of pneumatic quick disconnects include fill, vent, purge and leak check applications of tanks and pneumatic systems.
Designed to work with a wide range of gases, VACCO also provides pneumatic quick disconnects for other applications, which include pressurizing life support systems, environmental control systems, and gas storage containers.
VACCO’s cryogenic quick disconnects are available in latching or non-latching configurations. We offer a variety of valve options for each half. Typical applications of cryogenic disconnects are:
VACCO’s family of hazardous quick disconnects provide the precision operations required for space applications under extreme service or fluid conditions. Hazardous fluid couplings are typically used for the filling of chemical propulsion systems onboard launch vehicles or spacecraft. Following are the hazardous fluids that hazardous disconnects help control:
Orbital Express Refueling Coupling
VACCO designed and delivered the Orbital Express refueling mechanism, which featured 1/4" and 3/8" hydrazine couplings and successfully demonstrated satellite refueling in orbit.