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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SSL Pulls Out of DARPA’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program

DARPA Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites Program satellite. (Credit: DARPA)

PALO ALTO, CA, Jan. 30, 2019 /CNW/ – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (NYSE:MAXR) (TSX:MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has exercised its right to terminate participation in the Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program, a public-private partnership with the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), citing a need to focus its resources on ensuring optimal returns when weighed against other capital priorities, such as WorldView Legion. SSL remains unwavering in its commitment to its customers on all existing contracts.

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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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Astroscale Secures Additional $50 Million for Space Debris Service

ELSA-d Chaser satellite (Credit: ASTROSCALE)

SINGAPORE, October 31, 2018 (Astroscale PR) — Astroscale Pte. Ltd (“Astroscale”), the market-leader in developing a space debris removal service to secure long-term spaceflight safety, obtained additional funding of US $50 million from a group of investors led by INCJ Ltd. (INCJ), and including funds operated by SBI Investment Co., Ltd. (SBII) and Mitsubishi Estate Co., Ltd. (Mitsubishi Estate) among others.

This is the fourth round of funding raised by the ground-breaking company based in Singapore and it brings the total amount of capital investment to US $102 million.

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Mattereum to Partner with SpaceBridge Logistics on In-space Tug Services

LONDON (Mattereum PR) — Mattereum has announced a partnership with SpaceBridge Logistics, а company building a marketplace for in-space tug services at the intersection of aerospace and blockchain.

Pioneering London based legaltech firm Mattereum has signed a Memorandum of Cooperation with SpaceBridge, a space logistics company described as the “Uber for space”.

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NASA Selects SSL to Develop Critical Technologies for On-Orbit Servicing and Space Exploration

sslPALO ALTO, Calif. (SSL PR) – SSL, a Maxar Technologies company (formerly MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd.) (NYSE: MAXR) (TSX: MAXR), and a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, announced today it was selected by NASA for two separate public-private partnerships to develop two vital “Tipping Point” spacecraft technologies.

NASA’s Tipping Point awards are designed to foster the development of commercial space capabilities and benefit future NASA missions. A technology is considered by NASA to be at a tipping point if an investment in a demonstration is likely to result in a high likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application, and significant improvement in the ability to successfully bring the technology to market.

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Effective Space, IAI Announce Partnership on Satellite Servicing

Credit: Effective Space

PARIS (IAI PR) — IAI and Effective Space – a company pioneering last mile logistics in space – today announced that they have signed a term sheet for cooperation, including both technological and financial partnerships. Under the conditions of the term sheet,

Effective Space will appoint IAI as the primary contractor of its SPACE DRONETM spacecraft, while IAI will work to complete the necessary approvals for equity investment in Effective Space. The term sheet follows more than a year of cooperation, during which both companies have been jointly working on the SPACE DRONETM spacecraft design.

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Startup Plans Fuel Depots in Orbit for Satellite Servicing

Credit: Orbital Fab

Space News reports that a company run by the former CEO of Deep Space Industries plans to develop orbiting fuel depots.

Orbit Fab, a Silicon Valley-based company with about a dozen employees, said Aug. 28 that a round of funding led by venture capital firm Bolt will enable it to demonstrate technology for fuel tanks that could be used by future satellite servicing systems.

“We differentiate ourselves from the satellite servicing operators in that we’re looking to put up just dumb tanks full of propellant, to provide that propellant where it’s needed, and we’re looking to partner with the satellite servicing operators to help improve their business models,” said Daniel Faber, chief executive of Orbit Fab, in an interview.

Faber said Orbit Fab will work with companies developing satellite servicing systems rather than create its own. “We’ve seen that the satellite servicing operators have a lot on their plates standing up their businesses, so they can’t take on the extra risk of standing up a gas station business,” he said. “We decided we would take that part.”

[….]

That initial mission, scheduled for launch next year, will be done in collaboration with NASA. Faber said the agency is providing “in-kind support,” with additional details to be released in the coming weeks.

NASA Testing Satellite Servicing Technologies on the Ground

Satellite servicing ground test. (Credit: NASA Goddard/Chris Gunn)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Satellites are crucial to our everyday lives, but cost hundreds of millions of dollars to manufacture and launch. Currently, they are simply decommissioned when they run out of fuel. However, there is a better way: satellite servicing, which can make spaceflight more sustainable, affordable and resilient. NASA’s satellite servicing technologies are opening up a new world where space robots diagnose, maintain and extend a spacecraft’s life.

At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, a 10 by 16-foot robot tests satellite servicing capabilities on Earth before they’re put to use in space. Sitting on top of the six-legged hexapod is a partial mock-up of a satellite. Mounted to a panel close by is an advanced robotic arm. Together, these robots practice a calculated dance. As the hexapod moves, it mimics microgravity as the robotic arm reaches out to grab the satellite.

At NASA, we’re working to prove the combination of technologies necessary to robotically refuel a satellite in orbit that was not designed to be serviced. The same technologies developed for the Restore-L project will advance in-orbit repair, upgrade and assembly capabilities.

The ground demonstrations take place in Goddard’s Robotic Operations Center. The hexapod robot was built for NASA by Mikrolar, a New Hampshire-based company.

GAO: Restore-L Mission Schedule is Lagging

Artist’s conception of Restore-L servicing satellite with Landsat 7. (Credit: NASA)

NASA’s Restore-L project — which aims to demonstrate on-orbit satellite servicing by refueling the Landsat 7 satellite — is running behind schedule due to funding and technical issues, according to an audit from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Orbital ATK Announces New Mission Extension Pods

Video Caption: During this year’s SATELLITE 2018 Conference and Exhibition, Orbital ATK, a leader in the emerging space logistics market, debuted the next generation of in-orbit satellite serving technology with the introduction of Mission Extension Pods (MEPs)™ and the Mission Robotic Vehicle (MRV)™. These two products join Orbital ATK’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV)™, creating a suite of in-orbit satellite servicing products focused on extending the life of existing satellites.

ILS to Launch 2 Satellite Servicing Spacecraft for Effective Space

Credit: Effective Space

WASHINGTON, DC (ILS PR) — ILS, a U.S.-based leading global commercial launch services provider and UK headquartered Effective Space announce their intent to contract to deliver two of Effective Space’s SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft into orbit. The Proton Breeze M rideshare launch is planned for 2020 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

“ILS is focused on serving the satellite industry with flexible, and affordable launch solutions and our agreement with Effective Space is a perfect example of that. The performance of the Proton Breeze M vehicle to deliver the SPACE DRONE™ spacecraft directly to geostationary orbit combined with our decades-long history of launching dual or multiple spacecraft at one time, makes it a natural fit for Proton to deploy their spacecraft,” said ILS President Kirk Pysher. “This combination of performance and experience will enable Effective Space to realize their mission objective in the most expedient and effective way possible.”

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DARPA Requests Quarter Billion for Space Development Programs

Artist’s conception of Boeing’s Experimental Spaceplane One (XS-1). (Credit: Boeing)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

DARPA has requested $254.67 million to fund a variety of space programs for FY 2019. The total includes funds for work on an experimental space plane, a responsive launch competition, and robotic on-orbit servicing of satellites in geosynchronous orbit (GEO).

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Self-Driving Servicer Now Baselined for NASA’s Restore-L Satellite-Servicing Demonstration

Artist’s conception of Restore-L servicing satellite with Landsat 7. (Credit: NASA)

CAPTION:

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — One test changed the fortunes of an advanced 3-D imaging lidar system now baselined for NASA’s Restore-L project that will demonstrate an autonomous satellite-servicing capability.

Officials with NASA’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division, or SSPD, have officially baselined the Kodiak system — formerly known as the Goddard Reconfigurable Solid-state Scanning Lidar, or GRSSLi — to provide real-time images and distance-ranging information during Restore-L. This project will demonstrate how a specially equipped robotic servicer spacecraft can extend a satellite’s lifespan — even one not originally designed for on-orbit servicing.

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