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Maxar and NASA will demonstrate orbital spacecraft assembly with a new robotic arm

NASA has awarded Maxar an estimated $142 million contract to demonstrate in-orbit spacecraft refueling and assembly of new constituents working a custom-built robotic platform in space.

The space infrastructure adroit robot, or SPIDER, curriculum will be part of NASA’s Restore-L mission to demonstrate automation of proposed orbital chores like reconfiguring or restoring a satellite or inventing brand-new factors from scratch.

The first thing the Restore-L spacecraft will do is show that it can synchronize with, capture, connect with and refuel a moon in orbit, then liberate it into a new arena. Subsequentlies the ship will use the Maxar-built robotic arm to assemble a multi-panel antenna reflector, then test it.

Last, a separate piece of equipment, Tethers Unlimited’s MakerSat, will extrude a rafter some 10 -2 0 meters long, which will be inspected by the parent satellite, then detached and reattached to demonstrate its robustness.

” We are continuing America’s global leadership in space technology by proving we are in a position to assemble spacecraft with larger and more powerful factors, after start ,” said NASA’s Jim Reuter in a word post.” This technology expression will open up a new world of in-space robotic capabilities .”

There’s no hard timeline for members of the mission hitherto, but it’s intended to take off the mid 2020 s. This isn’t a small-scale experimentation that can fly up next week in an Electron — it’s a big, expensive one that will likely take up the majority of members of a large rocket’s payload.

Although it’s only a demo, a Maxar representative pointed out that it is very close to what would be an operational system on other spacecrafts in the future. It has also are already demoed on the grind, though of course that’s no substitute for the real thing.

Robotic limbs are something of a specialty for Maxar, which has delivered six total for NASA, including the right on Insight( currently on the Red Planet) and the Mars 2020 Rover( due to receive its official, inspirational specify any day now ).

We’ll have Maxar’s head of space robotics onstage at TC Session: Robotics+ AI in March at UC Berkeley, so be sure to join us there if you’d like to hear more about the business of structure cavity robots.

SPIDER will be integrated with the spacecraft bus Maxar is building for @NASA Restore-L activity, which will refuel a satellite in low-pitched Earth orbit. SPIDER will enable spacecraft factors to be robotically assembled and reconfigured while on-orbit. Learn more: XfPquzmsKi

— Maxar Technologies (@ Maxar) January 31, 2020

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