Canadian Space Robot Dextre to Expand Ability to Refuel Spacecraft in Orbit

Rendering of Dextre on the end of Canadarm2, holding an advanced vision system. (Credit: CSA/Neptec)

LONGUEUIL, Quebec (CSA PR) — From August 13 to 14, Dextre, Canada’s robotic handyman on the International Space Station, will conduct a demonstration of how robots could refuel satellites and spacecraft to extend their useful lifetimes.

NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) will use Dextre’s proven ability to perform highly delicate tasks on the International Space Station, to test the hardware and procedures needed to store and transfer cryogenic fluids.

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Robotic Refueling Mission 3 Can’t Perform Cryogenic Fuel Transfer

Edward Cheung, an engineer at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, performs a fit check of RRM3’s three external tools. After RRM3 is installed to the outside of International Space Station the Dextre robotic arm will mount the pedestal and tools, pre-assembled by astronauts on the space station. (Credit: NASA/Goddard/Chris Gunn)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On April 8, the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) aboard the International Space Station started experiencing issues powering up its cryogen coolers that maintain the temperature of liquid methane contained within the module. After several troubleshooting attempts, it was determined the coolers could not be powered up. As a result, the temperature of the liquid began to rise. The liquid methane turned into a gas and was safely vented from the payload. There was no impact to other station systems or operations.

While RRM3 can no longer perform a cryogenic fuel transfer, its four months on station taught NASA about the technology needed to store and transfer cryogenic fuel in space. The mission will carry out other planned operations with servicing and inspection tools. Ultimately, RRM3 will still help bring NASA closer to replenishing cryogenic fuel in space so spacecraft can live longer and journey farther into the solar system.

RRM3 launched to the space station in December 2018 and is installed to the outside of station on Express Logistics Carrier-1.











Astronauts Assemble Tools to Test Space Tech

Top: RRM3 tools (left to right) — Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot 2, Cryogen Servicing Tool, Multi-Function Tool 2 — during ground testing; Bottom: Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques pose with the corresponding RRM3 tools aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Technology drives exploration for future human missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond. For spacecraft to journey farther and live longer, we’ll need to store and transfer super-cold liquids used for fuel and life support systems in space. In December 2018, the Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3) launched to the International Space Station to do just that — transfer and store cryogenic fuel in space for the first time.

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NASA to Launch New Refueling Mission

By Isabelle Yan
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, Md.

NASA will lay the foundation for spacecraft life extension and long duration space exploration with the upcoming launch of Robotic Refueling Mission 3 (RRM3), a mission that will pioneer techniques for storing and replenishing cryogenic spacecraft fuel.

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2017: A Year of Progress and Poised for the Future

ISARA’s three antenna panels feature a printed circuit board pattern that narrowly focuses the CubeSat’s radio transmission beam in much the same way a parabolic dish reflector does. (Credit: Nanoracks)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — Throughout 2017, NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) made noteworthy progress in maturing and demonstrating technologies to bolster America’s space agenda, while setting the stage for vital advancements within the next several years.

From expanding the utilization of space in low-Earth orbit and enabling new scientific discoveries, to advancing capabitilties for robotic and human exploration of deep space destinations – STMD is executing a broad cross-cutting agenda, one that is pioneering groundbreaking technologies and knowhow.

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NASA Satellite Servicing Office Becomes a Projects Division

SSPD_Emblem_2016_Project_UseGREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Since 2009, the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office (SSCO) has been building upon the heritage of satellite servicing and repair that began with NASA’s successful servicing of the Hubble Space Telescope. Recently, SSCO became the Satellite Servicing Projects Division (SSPD), continuing its growth from one office with multiple demonstrations to a division of three offices and two projects.

The creation of SSPD is more than a name change. “The growth of satellite servicing projects and demonstrations necessitated the evolution of the office into a division,” said Ben Reed, deputy division director for SSPD. SSCO was a vital bridge from human-based shuttle servicing to robotic-based multiple-orbit servicing. “It was the foundation that will allow us as a division to expand our technologies for multiple stakeholders – from on-orbit refueling to large aperture telescope assembly in space, and NASA’s Journey to Mars.”

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Robotic Refueling Mission Continues on ISS

RRM operations demonstrate satellite-servicing technologies using the RRM module (right) and the Dextre robot (top center). Behind them, the ISS solar array is visible. (Credit: NASA)
RRM operations demonstrate satellite-servicing technologies using the RRM module (right) and the Dextre robot (top center). Behind them, the ISS solar array is visible. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — It’s back, it’s updated, and it’s making great progress – all on the International Space Station (ISS).

NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), a groundbreaking demonstration of new satellite-servicing technologies and techniques, recently resumed operations on the space station after a two-year hiatus. Within five days, the RRM team had outfitted the RRM module with fresh hardware for a series of technology demonstrations and tested a new, multi-capability inspection tool.

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Robotic Refueling Mission Enters New Phase With New Tech Delivery to ISS

The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, investigation (center, on platform) uses the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and the Canadian Dextre robot (right) to demonstrate satellite-servicing tasks. (Credit: NASA/CSA)
The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, investigation (center, on platform) uses the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and the Canadian Dextre robot (right) to demonstrate satellite-servicing tasks. (Credit: NASA/CSA)

GREENBELT, MD, August 13, 2014 (NASA PR) — Who doesn’t love an upgrade? Newer, better and oh so shiny is great, but what’s really fantastic is when a change unlocks new possibilities.

That’s the case with NASA’s fix-it investigation on the International Space Station, the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM). The award-winning endeavor moved one step closer to its 2.0 update with the delivery of new RRM hardware aboard the European Automated Transfer Vehicle-5, which docked with the space station today.

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NASA Tests In-Flight Fuel Transfer System

RROxiTT lead roboticist Alex Janas stands with the Oxidizer Nozzle Tool as he examines the work site. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)
RROxiTT lead roboticist Alex Janas stands with the Oxidizer Nozzle Tool as he examines the work site. (Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn)

GREENBELT, Mary. (NASA PR) — NASA has successfully concluded a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer hazardous oxidizer – a type of propellant – into the tanks of satellites in space today.

Concurrently on the ground, NASA is incorporating results from this test and the Robotic Refueling Mission on the International Space Station to prepare for an upcoming ground-based test of a full-sized robotic servicer system that will perform tasks on a mock satellite client.

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NASA Tests New Technologies for Robotic Refueling

GREENBELT, MD (NASA PR) — It’s corrosive, it’s hazardous, and it can cause an explosion powerful enough to thrust a satellite forward in space. Multiple NASA centers are currently conducting a remotely controlled test of new technologies that would empower future space robots to transfer this dangerous fluid — satellite oxidizer — into the propellant tanks of spacecraft in space today.

Building on the success of the International Space Station’s landmark Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) demonstration, the ground-based Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test (RROxiTT) is taking another step forward in NASA’s ongoing campaign to develop satellite-servicing capabilities for space architectures and human exploration.

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Robotic Refueling Mission Gears Up for Phase 2

Dextre and Robotic Refueling Mission hardware. (Credit: NASA)
Via NASA

It may be called the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), but NASA built RRM to demonstrate much more than just robotic satellite refueling.

In its second phase, RRM is now moving on to demonstrate how a space robot can complete intermediate tasks required to replenish croygen in the instruments of “legacy” satellites: existing, orbiting spacecraft that were not designed to be serviced. Initial activities to demonstrate this on-orbit capability were completed in March and June 2012 with the aid of the original RRM tools and activity boards.

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Robotic Refueling Mission Proves Concept

The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, investigation (center, on platform) uses the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and the Canadian Dextre robot (right) to demonstrate satellite-servicing tasks. (Credit: NASA/CSA)
The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, investigation (center, on platform) uses the International Space Station’s Canadarm2 and the Canadian Dextre robot (right) to demonstrate satellite-servicing tasks. (Credit: NASA/CSA)

By Adrienne Alessandro
NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

Following six historic days of operations aboard the International Space Station, NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, demonstrated remotely controlled robots using current-day technology could refuel satellites not designed to be serviced.

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Dextre Successfully Refuels Mock Satellite

robotic_refueling_one

Longueuil, Quebec, January 25, 2013 (CSA PR) – Dextre, the Canadian Space Agency’s robotic “handyman” on board the International Space Station (ISS), made space history last night by successfully refueling a mock satellite on the exterior of the station.

Topping off the satellite’s fuel tank was the pivotal task in the experimental Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), a collaboration between the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) to demonstrate how robots could service and refuel satellites on location in space to extend their useful lifetime.

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Robotic Refueling Mission Resumes After Brief Pause

RRM_demo_illustrationRobotic Refueling Mission (RRM) Updates
Via Canadian Space Agency

2013-01-16

Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) Robotics to Resume on January 17

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) has cleared the International Space Station’s robotic arm, Canadarm2, to continue work on the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) following a short delay to verify software settings in the robotic arm’s control system.

Robotics engineering teams had discovered an intermittent anomaly in the software that controls Canadarm2, which could potentially have caused the system to use the wrong parameters while in motion, a particular concern when the arm must work close to other structures (as is the case with RRM). After detailed analysis, the CSA identified steps that can be taken to ensure Canadarm2’s software selects the right parameters, thereby ensuring it is safe to proceed.

Canadarm2 and Dextre, the International Space Station’s robotic handyman, will resume Day 2 operations of RRM tomorrow. Because Dextre successfully stowed the tertiary cap in the RRM module on Tuesday, the robot’s next step will be to cut two sets of wires on the safety cap. The goal of RRM is to demonstrate how robots could service and refuel satellites to extend their useful lifetime.

2013-01-16

Temporary pause in the operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission

The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) yesterday evening requested a temporary pause in the operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission. An intermittent difference in the software that controls of Canadarm2, the International Space Station’s Canadian-built Remote Manipulator System, requires further analysis to ensure safe operations. Canadarm2 and the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, or Dextre, has temporarily been placed in a safe configuration while engineering teams on the ground assess the data. The CSA will provide a status shortly to determine when work can safely resume.