Pasadena, CA (Ecliptic PR) – Six rugged RocketCam™ color video cameras captured close-up views of the first phase of NASA’s teleoperated Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) demonstration, conducted March 7-9 on the exterior of the International Space Station (ISS).
The RRM demo involves a complex, washing machine-sized experiment package conceived, designed, built and integrated by the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office at NASA’s Goddard Spaceflight Center in Maryland (http://ssco.gsfc.nasa.gov), leveraging the group’s decades of expertise leading Hubble servicing mission activities. The RRM module was launched to ISS onboard the final Shuttle mission in July, 2011 and transferred to the ISS exterior by spacewalking astronauts.
Last week’s activities kicked off a multi-phase, two-year demonstration of techniques and tools designed to show how robotic vehicles and capabilities could be employed to extend the life of satellites through servicing and by refueling their propellant tanks, thus extending their operating life.
All demo phases involve the Canadian Space Agency’s two-armed, teleoperated Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, nicknamed Dextre, which accesses four special tools on the RRM module and employs them to demonstrate various aspects of refueling and servicing operations on high-fidelity satellite piece parts integrated into the RRM module. Close-up operation of each of the RRM tools is monitored by two RocketCam color video cameras per tool; only six RocketCams were utilized during this first phase of the demo.
“Without the RRM tool cameras, we would not be able to achieve the precision required for these dexterous servicing activities,” says Dr. Edward Cheung, RRM Electrical Lead. “With our missions operators in Houston, we need eyes in orbit. These cameras provide this essential function.”
With this initial checkout phase complete, subsequent RRM phases will demonstrate electrical connector cover extraction, manipulation of thermal blankets, robotic removal of propellant fill and drain caps, and fluid transfer that simulates refueling.
“Robotic refueling and satellite servicing could extend the lifetimes of satellites, offering significant savings in delayed replacement costs,” says Frank Cepollina, Associate Director of the Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office. “Such servicing has the potential to allow human and robotic explorers to reach distant destinations more efficiently and effectively.”
Figure caption: RocketCam view of the Wire Cutting Tool being precisely maneuvered by the teleoperated Dextre robotic arm next to a high-fidelity wire-secured connector during the first phase of NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission demonstration onboard the International Space Station. Photo courtesy NASA’s Satellite Servicing Capabilities Office.
About Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation: Ecliptic provides avionics and sensor systems for use in extreme environments. For the past 15 years its popular RocketCam™ family of video and imaging systems has been widely used on over 100 rocket launches and spacecraft missions, and more recently onboard aircraft and drones. The privately held firm’s core competencies include space systems engineering, aerospace avionics, instrument systems and aerospace test equipment. Ecliptic has offices in Pasadena and Moffett Field, California. See more at www.eclipticenterprises.com, and enjoy over 125 RocketCam highlight video clips at http://www.youtube.com/user/RocketCamByEcliptic/videos?view=1.
RocketCam™ is a trademark of Ecliptic Enterprises Corporation.