January 31, 2020 – NASA has awarded a $142 million contract to Maxar Applied sciences of Westminster, Colorado, to robotically assemble a communications antenna and manufacture a spacecraft beam in orbit. The know-how demonstration is slated to happen on NASA’s Restore-L spacecraft, designed to service and refuel a satellite tv for pc in low-Earth orbit.
The Restore-L spacecraft shall be modified to accommodate a payload known as House Infrastructure Dexterous Robotic (SPIDER). The payload features a light-weight 16-foot (5-meter) robotic arm. Beforehand often called Dragonfly throughout the floor demonstration part of the NASA Tipping Level partnership, SPIDER will assemble seven parts to type a practical 9-foot (Three-meter) communications antenna. The robotically assembled antenna will show Ka-band transmission with a floor station.
The payload additionally will manufacture a 32-foot (10-meter) light-weight composite beam utilizing know-how developed by Tethers Limitless of Bothell, Washington. The manufacturing ingredient of the demonstration will confirm the aptitude to assemble massive spacecraft buildings in orbit.
“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,” stated Jim Reuter, affiliate administrator of NASA’s House Expertise Mission Directorate. “This know-how demonstration will open up a brand new world of in-space robotic capabilities.”
The second part of the public-private partnership combines NASA assets with an trade contribution to cut back the general price to American taxpayers and the company. The demonstration will mature applied sciences with cross-cutting purposes for presidency and business missions, together with human exploration of the Moon and Mars and in-space development of enormous telescopes.
“In-space meeting and manufacturing will permit for better mission flexibility, adaptability, and resilience, which shall be key to NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration method,” stated Brent Robertson, undertaking supervisor of Restore-L at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland. The Restore-L undertaking is growing a set of applied sciences able to refueling and servicing satellites in area. The spacecraft is at the moment focused for launch within the mid-2020s.
The SPIDER payload group contains Maxar, Tethers Limitless, West Virginia Robotic Expertise Middle in Morgantown, and NASA’s Langley Analysis Middle in Hampton, Virginia.
Restore-L and SPIDER are administered by the Expertise Demonstration Missions program primarily based at NASA’s Marshall House Flight Middle in Huntsville, Alabama, on behalf of the company’s House Expertise Mission Directorate. The SPIDER payload is managed by the Restore-L undertaking throughout the Exploration and In-House Providers (ExIS) initiatives division (previously often called the Satellite tv for pc Servicing Initiatives Division), positioned at NASA’s Goddard House Flight Middle in Greenbelt, Maryland.