There are several thousand satellites orbiting the Earth and like all machines, there are times when they may need a tune up to keep them operating. The Robotic Refueling Mission, or RRM, investigation demonstrates and tests the technologies, tools, and procedures needed for robotic servicing and refueling of satellites in space, particularly those not originally designed for refurbishment.
The joint NASA-Canadian Space Agency project may reduce risks and lay the foundation for future robotic servicing missions in microgravity, while extending the life of many satellites by years. This technology demonstration investigation uses one of the International Space Station's robotic arms -- the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator, also known as Dextre -- to test if the tools work properly.
In separate interviews, Jill McGuire, the RRM project manager, and Alex Janas, robotics operator, both from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, provide details about the demo. Janas works to design tools needed to service satellites not built with restoration in mind. "The whole goal of RRM [is] to show we could build an innovative tool to bridge the gap between the end of the robot and the satellite interface that was not designed to be manipulated robotically," McGuire said.