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Maxar and NASA will demonstrate orbital spacecraft assembly with a new robotic arm – TechCrunch

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NASA has awarded Maxar an estimated $142 million contract to reveal in-orbit spacecraft refueling and meeting of recent elements utilizing a customized robotic platform in area.

The area infrastructure dexterous robotic, or SPIDER, program can be a part of NASA’s Restore-L mission to reveal automation of proposed orbital duties like reconfiguring or repairing a satellite tv for pc or manufacturing new elements from scratch.

The very first thing the Restore-L spacecraft will do is present that it may well synchronize with, seize, join with and refuel a satellite tv for pc in orbit, then launch it into a brand new orbit. Afterwards the craft will use the Maxar-built robotic arm to assemble a multi-panel antenna reflector, then take a look at it.

Final, a separate piece of , Tethers Limitless’s MakerSat, will extrude a beam some 10-20 meters lengthy, which can be inspected by the father or mother satellite tv for pc, then indifferent and reattached to reveal its robustness.

“We’re persevering with America’s world management in area know-how by proving we are able to assemble spacecraft with bigger and extra highly effective elements, after launch,” mentioned NASA’s Jim Reuter in a news post. “This know-how demonstration will open up a brand new world of in-space robotic capabilities.”

There’s no laborious timeline for the mission but, however it’s supposed to take off the mid 2020s. This isn’t a small-scale experiment that may fly up subsequent week in an Electron — it’s a giant, costly one that can doubtless take up most of a giant rocket’s payload.

Though it’s solely an indication, a Maxar consultant identified that it is rather near what can be an operational system on different satellites sooner or later. It has additionally been beforehand demoed on the bottom, although in fact that’s no substitute for the true factor.

Robotic arms are one thing of a specialty for Maxar, which has delivered six whole for NASA, together with the one on Perception (presently on the Crimson Planet) and the Mars 2020 Rover (on account of obtain its official, inspirational identify any day now).

We’ll have Maxar’s head of area robotics onstage at TC Sessions: Robotics + AI in March at UC Berkeley, so you’ll want to be part of us there in the event you’d like to listen to extra in regards to the enterprise of constructing area robots.

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