Proving Satellite Servicing
Need extra gas or a tune-up for your satellite? For years, such services were outside the realm of possibility for most spacecraft. But now, one mission will break that paradigm.
During its mission, the OSAM-1 servicer will rendezvous with, grasp, refuel and relocate a government-owned satellite to extend its life. But OSAM-1’s effect will not end there.
The benefits are many. OSAM-1’s capabilities can give satellite operators new ways to manage their fleets more efficiently, and derive more value from their initial investment. These capabilities could even help mitigate the looming problem of orbital debris.
Successfully completing this mission will demonstrate that servicing technologies are ready for incorporation into other NASA missions, including exploration and science ventures. NASA is also transferring OSAM-1 technologies to commercial entities to help jumpstart a new domestic servicing industry.
Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER)
The OSAM-1 spacecraft will include an attached payload called Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER).
SPIDER includes a lightweight 16-foot (5-meter) robotic arm, bringing the total number of robotic arms flying on OSAM-1 to three. Previously known as Dragonfly during the ground demonstration phase of the NASA Tipping Point partnership, SPIDER will assemble seven elements to form a functional 9-foot (3-meter) communications antenna. The robotically assembled antenna will demonstrate Ka-band transmission with a ground station.
The payload also will manufacture a 32-foot (10-meter) lightweight composite beam using technology developed by Tethers Unlimited of Bothell, Washington. The assembly and manufacturing element of the demonstration will verify the capability to construct large spacecraft structures in orbit.
SPIDER will help mature space technologies with many potential cross-cutting applications, including:
- Enabling new architectures and capabilities for a wide range of government and commercial missions
- Enabling In-space construction of large communications antennae and telescopes
- Eliminating volume limits imposed by rockets
- Replacing some astronaut extravehicular activity tasks with precision robotics
- Introducing the potential for longer mission durations enabled by planned or unplanned maintenance
Bringing OSAM-1 to Life
It takes years of testing, countless hours of design, and five new technologies to make robotic satellite servicing a reality. Here’s a breakdown of the key elements of OSAM-1.
1. AUTONOMOUS, REAL-TIME RELATIVE NAVIGATION SYSTEM
Sensors, algorithms and a processor join forces, allowing OSAM-1 to rendezvous safely with its client.
2. SERVICING AVIONICS
In addition to ingesting and crunching sensor data, these elements control OSAM-1’s rendezvous and robotic tasks.
3. DEXTEROUS ROBOTIC ARMS
Two nimble, maneuverable arms precisely execute servicing assignments. Software comes included.
4. ADVANCED TOOL DRIVE AND TOOLS
Sophisticated, multifunction tools are manufactured to execute each servicing task.
5. PROPELLANT TRANSFER SYSTEM
This system delivers measured amounts of fuel to the client at the right temperature, pressure and rate.