Category Archives: Robotic spacecraft

Startup robots choose to go to the moon and mine it for minerals to sell to humans back on Earth

A private group of startup robots is planning to go to the moon and mine it for water and minerals to sell to humans back on Earth, according to a report on

The commercial company backing the alien space robots, Moon Express, says it’s long dreamed of seeing robots dig holes in the moon’s surface and bring up priceless treasures they can sell for a lot of money.

Moon Express is currently based at Cape Canaveral, in Florida, and occupies Launch Complexes 17 and 18 – so it’s literally within walking distance of the moon, sort of. 

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Chinese robotic spacecraft completes second refuelling test, as Russia launches robotic cargo ship to International Space Station


The Progress spacecraft

China and Russia have both launched robotic spacecraft on cargo missions recently, according to reports in the media. 

Chinese state news agency Xinhua says the Tiangong-2 space lab and Tianzhou-1 completed a second refuelling test which “cemented technical results from the first refuelling”.

According to, the refuelling procedure requires 29 steps to complete and lasts for several days. 

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Honeybee Robotics wins Nasa funding for six spacecraft projects

nasa honeybee robotics US-COMP_base

Picture by Nasa via

Honeybee Robotics has received four Nasa Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I awards and two Nasa Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I award to develop new spacecraft systems and enabling technologies.

The awards will allow Honeybee to analyze concepts for advanced future planetary exploration, sampling, in-situ resource utilization, and on-orbit operations. 

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MDA recognized by Nasa for robotic servicing of International Space Station

nasa ssl robotic spacecraft to fix satellites

Artist’s illustration of the robotic spacecraft which will float around in space, fixing satellites. Picture courtesy of SSL

MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, has been recognized by Nasa’s Johnson Space Center for its “outstanding support” of a robotic upgrade to the International Space Station’s power system which took place in January.

The MDA team based in Houston played a critical role in planning and validating the robotic maneuvering both before and during the mission.

Nasa JSC ground controllers used the 15-degrees-of-freedom Special Purpose Dextrous Manipulator (Dextre) arm to install six new 430-pound lithium-ion batteries in two power channel integrated electronics assembly pallets.

Dextre first removed 12 older and depleted 740-pound nickel-hydrogen batteries from the pallets, nine of which were put on the Japanese H-II Transfer Vehicle’s external pallet to burn up on re-entry with it. 

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SSL selected to partner with Darpa to develop satellite servicing business

ssl darpa_rsgs_lrg

Space Systems Loral, a leading provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, today announced it has been selected by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency to develop the capability to service and maintain spacecraft and other infrastructure in the geostationary arc.

Darpa’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites program is expected to be the foundation of a new business for SSL that will serve both commercial and government operators with repair, upgrade, relocation, and refueling of on-orbit assets.

Howard Lance, chief executive officer, SSL MDA Holdings, says: “This will be SSL’s first spacecraft contract with the Department of Defense in recent years and it is the third time that we have been selected by the US government for a major program in just two months, following our recent selections for Nasa’s Restore-L and Psyche missions.

“It clearly demonstrates the success of our strategy to bring the benefits of our commercial business to a broader audience and to grow our business with US government work.” 

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This time, it’s rocket science: Harmonic Drive gears used in space rover project

Space rover

Harmonic Drive’s strain wave gears are used on spacecraft

Graham Mackrell, managing director of precision gearing specialist Harmonic Drive UK, explains why its strain wave gears have been the top choice in space for over 40 years

Anything that goes into space is seen as the pinnacle of human creation. Astronauts are highly trained and are at the peak of physical fitness, space shuttles are crafted by large teams of expert engineers and all the technology used is so high-tech it’s as if it belongs to science fiction.

Many decades ago, the first Harmonic Drive gears were sent into space during the Apollo 15 mission. Even from the beginnings of the space race, the expectations for the technology used were high.

The equipment used in space had to be reliable, compact and lightweight and given the increasing demands on equipment in today’s space missions, it must also now be highly accurate with zero backlash and have high torque capacity.

When aerospace engineers were recently designing a new space rover, they looked to Harmonic Drive gears for reliability. Due to the obvious difficulties of performing repairs in space, a high mean time between equipment failures is a high priority.

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Nasa places order with SSL for robotic spacecraft which will fix satellites in orbit

New craft will be used to service satellites out in space 

Nasa has placed an order with Space Systems Loral for a robotic spacecraft which will go and fix satellites while in orbit. 

Nasa calls it the Restore-L servicing mission, and it is designed to demonstrate the ability to extend the life of a satellite in Low Earth Orbit. Scheduled launch is in 2020.

The Restore-L spacecraft will use robotics to grasp, refuel and relocate an existing US government satellite already in LEO orbit with the goal of demonstrating tools, technologies and techniques that can be implemented on future government and commercial missions. 

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Fugitive robot found holed up on comet. Scientists demand the truth

philae esa

An escaped space robot has been found holed up inside a cave on a comet after going on the run for more than a year. 

Philae, a tiny robotic spacecraft, was sent by the European Space Agency as part of the Rosetta mission.

Philae was designed to autonomously explore and send back data to the main Rosetta spacecraft, but it apparently ran off and scientists have not been able to find it until now.

Matt Taylor, ESA’s Rosetta project scientist, is quoted by CNN as saying: “This wonderful news means that we now have the missing ‘ground-truth’ information needed to put Philae’s three days of science into proper context, now that we know where that ground actually is.”

Full story on CNN

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Nasa selects ideas for space robotics, 3D printing and alien technologies

nasa sstp_nodes_watson_rudy small copy

Nasa has selected 21 research and technology proposals from American small businesses and research institutions that will enable Nasa’s future missions into the solar system and alien worlds further out in space. 

The agency says its selections also consider America’s technology-driven economy here on Earth.

The Phase II selectees of Nasa’s Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program are permitted to enter negotiations for possible contract awards worth a combined total of approximately $15.8 million.

The program selected 21 innovative technology and projects from 41 US firms and research institutions in 20 different states. 

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Nasa to send solar-powered robotic spacecraft on mission to look for alien life on asteroid

Nasa is preparing to launch a solar-powered robotic spacecraft on the agency’s first mission to return a sample of an asteroid to Earth.

The mission will help scientists investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve understanding of asteroids that could impact Earth. It will also help establish the possible existence of alien life forms in outer space.

The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu and bring a sample back to Earth for intensive study.

Launch is scheduled for 7:05 pm EDT Thursday, September 8 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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SSL to provide robotic arms to Darpa for satellite servicing

ssl darpa

SSL artist rendering robotic arms. Source: Darpa (PRNewsFoto/SSL)

Space Systems Loral (SSL), a provider of innovative satellites and spacecraft systems, has received $20.7 million from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) to design and build robotic arm flight hardware for the first phase of the agency’s Robotic Servicing of Geosynchronous Satellites (RSGS) program.

SSL is receiving the funds through MDA US Systems, a division of MDA managed by SSL, and is working with the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL), which is the prime contractor managing the program.

The contract is for two complete robotic arm systems, which would be able to carefully capture and berth with satellites that were not previously designed for docking. 

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Nasa’s outer space additive manufacturing facility targets alien market

3d printing in space

Nasa wants to 3D print spacecraft using additive manufacturing techniques

Just when you thought things could not get any crazier, Nasa has set up an additive manufacturing plant in space that could take 3D printing orders from aliens 

Nasa’s advanced manufacturing system has been installed on the International Space Station and is said to be attracting considerable interest from unknown beings across the cosmos. 

Originally intended as an emergency tool shop for the ISS crew, the zero-gravity 3D printing facility is now being made available to extraterrestrial customers across the universe.

While Nasa is still waiting for its first alien customers, Earthlings are taking a strong interest in the system created by a company called Made In Space

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Honeybee Robotics to build starship to help Nasa find flatulent aliens on Mars

The crew hatch of the Nasa Orion spacecraft

The crew hatch of the Nasa Orion spacecraft

Honeybee to build complicated component for spacecraft 

Nasa has contracted Honeybee Robotics to help build a starship that will explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no human has gone before.

Specifically, Honeybee Robotics has begun development of the Side Hatch Gearbox Assembly for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) Spacecraft Crew Module. 

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Nasa robotic spacecraft to drill holes in Mars to look for aliens

nasa mission to mars

Rio Tinto area of Spain to play part of Martian landscape in project to test alien technology  

Nasa is planning to drill holes in the surface of Mars to look for aliens, and it’s preparing by conducting field tests around the world.

In the latest development, the Rio Tinto region of Spain has been invaded by scientists who say they plan to carry out a series of tests designed to simulate Martian exploration.

The scientists say they will leave within a few days after they’ve conducted their alien technology tests. 

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Nasa to send robots to Moon, Mars and comets to fetch water

honeybee robotic spacecraft

Honeybee robotic spacecraft could land on a comet and extract water and bring it back to Earth

Honeybee robotic spacecraft to fly around space and extract water from anything it lands on  

Nasa has decided to pour money into a project by Honeybee Robotics to build robots that fly around space, collecting water from different planets and celestial objects.

read it on apple news

Neither Nasa nor Honeybee has made public the exact amount of money to be placed in the pot, but a source close to the story said it was a “sweet deal” and that it would be spread over many years. 

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