Robotic Refueling Mission Phase 2 (RRM-Phase 2) - 05.13.15

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
What is the common thread to all of the activities going on during Robotic Refueling Mission-Phase 2 (RRM-P2) operations? The primary objective is servicing capabilities. These new technologies, tools and techniques could eventually give satellite owners resources to diagnose problems on orbit, fix anomalies, and keep certain spacecraft instruments performing longer in space. 
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Frank Cepollina, and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: RRM-Phase 2

Principal Investigator(s)
Frank Cepollina, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Benjamin Reed, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Jill McGuire, Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Justin Cassidy, Lockheed Martin, Greenbelt, MD, United States
Michael F. Piszczor, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States
David Wolford, Glenn Research Center, Cleveland, OH, United States

Developer(s)
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2013 - Ongoing

Expeditions Assigned
35/36,39/40,41/42,43/44,45/46,47/48

Previous ISS Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • RRM-P2 is demonstrating technologies and capabilities related to satellite servicing. Its to-do list includes testing a new inspection tool, practicing intermediary steps leading up to cryogen replenishment, testing electrical connections for “plug and play” space instruments, and working with decals that could help operations guided by machine vision go more smoothly. A couple of hosted experiments – including advanced solar cells and special coatings – are also being tested.
  • RRM-P2 is the continuation of the satellite-servicing demonstrations that began in the first phase of RRM operations.
  • New RRM hardware delivered in 2013 and 2014, is outfitting the existing RRM module for this new round of activities.

Description
NASA's Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) is an external International Space Station (ISS) investigation that demonstrates and tests the tools, technologies and techniques needed to robotically refuel, repair, and upgrade satellites in space, especially satellites that were not designed to be serviced. A joint effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), RRM is the first in-orbit attempt to test robotic refueling and servicing techniques for spacecraft not built with in-orbit servicing in mind. Its first phase of demonstrations, conducted between September 2011 and May 2013, included a first-of-its-kind robotic refueling demonstration.

The second phase of RRM operations builds on its team's experience base. RRM-P2 plans to work through an updated to-do list that includes testing a new inspection tool, practicing intermediary steps leading up to cryogen replenishment, testing electrical connections for "plug-and-play" space instruments, and working with decals that could help operations guided by machine vision go more smoothly. A couple of hosted experiments – including advanced solar cells and special coatings – are also being tested.

To perform these operations, new hardware was delivered to the ISS in two shipments. In September 2013, the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle-4 delivered the RRM Task Board 3 and the RRM On-orbit Transfer Cage (ROTC), a novel device designed to facilitate the transfer of RRM hardware outside of the space station. In July 2014, the European Space Agency Automated Transfer Vehicle-5 in launched the RRM Task Board 4 and the Visual Inspection Poseable Invertebrate Robot (VIPIR) to ISS.

Astronauts mount the ROTC on the sliding table within the Japanese airlock and install the RRM hardware onto the ROTC, giving the Canadian Dextre robot an easy platform from which to retrieve and subsequently install the new components on the RRM module. The Dextre robotic hardware transfer is entirely controlled from the ground without astronaut assistance.

The new task boards and VIPIR are being added to the existing RRM module that was installed on the ISS ELC-4 in August 2011. The task boards are designed to mimic satellite interfaces that a robot would interact with during a servicing activity. The boards also include various mechanical adapters which the RRM tools pick up and use during operations to execute servicing tasks. VIPIR is a robotic, multi-capability inspection tool designed to deliver near and midrange inspection capabilities in space.

With the help of the twin-armed Dextre robot, the newly installed RRM task boards, and the RRM tools, the RRM team works its way through the activities on the two bask boards.

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Applications

Space Applications
The new technologies, tools and techniques that RRM-Phase 2 is demonstrating could eventually give satellite owners resources to diagnose problems on orbit, fix anomalies, and keep certain spacecraft instruments performing longer in space.

Earth Applications
Refueling and repairing satellites in space would extend their lifetimes, allowing owners to avoid launching costly replacements. Some RRM technologies could potentially be adapted to fuel spacecraft robotically on the ground.

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Operations

Operational Requirements
During the mission, Dextre uses unique RRM tools to demonstrate a suite of satellite-servicing technologies and tasks.

RRM-Phase 2 Mission Operations are being managed from Goddard Space Flight Center. Robotic operations are controlled by Johnson Space Center, with payload monitoring performed from Marshall Space Flight Center.

Operational Protocols
Controlled by robot operators on the ground, Dextre retrieves the new hardware from the ROTC within the Japanese airlock and installs them on the RRM module. Two components that launched with Phase 1, a task board and the Safety Cap Tool, are removed from the module by Dextre and brought back to the Japanese airlock.

Using the new task boards and the old and new RRM tools, the RRM team demonstrates the tools, technologies, and techniques listed above. RRM tools for Phase 2 activities include the Wire Cutter and Blanket Manipulation Tool, the Multifunction Tool, and the new VIPIR Tool.

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM)

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Imagery

image VIPIR with its three cameras (left to right): situational, borescope, and motorized optical. (NASA Image)
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image A mere 1.2mm in diameter - the thickness of a dime - VIPIR's borescope camera is the smallest commercial camera ever screened by NASA for use in space. (NASA Image)
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