Tuesday, January 29, 2013
The International Space Station's DEXTRE robot grasps the RRM hardware during the key demonstration last Thursday, Jan. 24.(Image from TV downlink/credit: NASA)
The latest project I worked on during my career achieved its major goal last week by demonstrating how an existing satellite would be refueled in orbit robotically. The Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), sponsored by the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, used tools designed to remove caps and wires from valves used on existing satellites and then attached a hose that would allow the demonstration of refilling a satellite's fuel tanks. The demonstration was performed on hardware attached to the outside of the International Space Station.
The SSCO plans to follow up (pending funding by Congress) with an actual free flying spacecraft to demonstrate the capability on a couple of actual satellites currently near the end of their planned missions, with the ultimate goal being to turn the capability over to commercial industry for routine servicing of satellites.
More detail on the RRM demonstration can be found in these articles by SpaceflightNow.com and by NASASpaceflight.com.
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