Nasa astronauts carry out maintenance work on robotic arm on the International Space Station

 

Nasa astronauts went on a spacewalk today to replace one of the two Latching End Effectors on the International Space Station’s robot arm, called Canadarm 2. 

The two astronauts were named as Commander Randy Bresnik and Flight Engineer Mark Vande Hei, and the duration of the spacewalk was said to be 55 minutes.

The astronauts also carried out a range of additional maintenance and upgrading tasks, including the removal of the multi-layer insulation from a spare direct current switching unit, and preparing a flex hose rotary coupler for future use.  Continue reading Nasa astronauts carry out maintenance work on robotic arm on the International Space Station

Nasa and SSL complete preliminary design review of robot that will fix satellites

Space Systems Loral says it successfully completed the preliminary design review for Nasa’s Restore-L mission to provide satellite servicing in low earth orbit. 

With the completion of the preliminary design review, Restore-L is proceeding on schedule to the next phase of development and its launch in 2020.

As announced last year, SSL is working with Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center’s Satellite Servicing Projects Division, to build a spacecraft that will change the nature of how infrastructure in space is managed by, for the first time in history, refueling a satellite in orbit that was not designed for servicing.  Continue reading Nasa and SSL complete preliminary design review of robot that will fix satellites

Honeybee Robotics acquired by Ensign-Bickford Industries

Specialist robotic spacecraft developer will maintain its course through the galaxy, say new owners

Honeybee Robotics has been acquired by Ensign-Bickford Industries, a 181-year-old privately held corporation with headquarters in Simsbury, Connecticut. 

Honeybee builds robotic spacecraft for Nasa and has delivered systems for the past three Mars landers, and is developing a mining robot which could extract precious resources from asteroids.

Following the acquisition, Honeybee Robotics will be a stand-alone, wholly-owned subsidiary of EBI and will complement EBI’s current aerospace and defense subsidiary, Eba-d.

Honeybee will continue to operate from its current facilities in Brooklyn, New York, Longmont, Colorado, and Pasadena, California.  Continue reading Honeybee Robotics acquired by Ensign-Bickford Industries

Competition to mine outer space could change mining industry on Earth

For the past eight years, Nasa has been running a competition to find the team that can develop the best robotic systems to mine the moon. 

This year’s winners were announced recently, and Nasa gave out prizes and commendations for about 10 teams.

The discoveries made those 10 teams and all the others that entered the competition may end up in the mining industry here on Earth, long before they even take off for the moon.  Continue reading Competition to mine outer space could change mining industry on Earth

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 TheVerge.com

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

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

Progress_M-52
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 Space.com, the refuelling procedure requires 29 steps to complete and lasts for several days.  Continue reading Chinese robotic spacecraft completes second refuelling test, as Russia launches robotic cargo ship to International Space Station

Honeybee Robotics wins Nasa funding for six spacecraft projects

nasa honeybee robotics US-COMP_base
Picture by Nasa via ParabolicArc.com

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.  Continue reading Honeybee Robotics wins Nasa funding for six spacecraft projects

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.  Continue reading MDA recognized by Nasa for robotic servicing of International Space Station

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.”  Continue reading SSL selected to partner with Darpa to develop satellite servicing business

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

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

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

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

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

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.  Continue reading SSL to provide robotic arms to Darpa for satellite servicing