By Andy Choi
The Canadian Dextre robot and RRM tools were used during the operation of NASA's Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) on the International Space Station, between March 7 and 9, 2012.
During the RRM Gas Fittings removal task, mission operators direct Dextre to use the Wire Cutter Tool to cut a wire
RRM is an external station experiment focused on the practical representation of the tools, techniques and the technologies required for robotic-based services and refueling satellites in orbit. It is a combined effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA). Dextre robot is used for the first time in technology R&D.
RRM tools were implemented for the first time in orbit for RRM Gas Fittings Removal task, which is carried out before launch. This was followed by RRM operations such as performing robotic demonstrations with RRM tools, Dextre, and the components and interfaces of the satellite in the interior of and exterior to the cube-shaped RRM module.
For RRM operations, the Canadian Space Agency serves as a major partner. As an extension of its 57-foot-long robotic arm, Canadarm2, the CSA developed Dextre, the space station's twin-armed Canadian robotic ‘handyman’ performs maintenance tasks and delicate assembly operations on the station's exterior. CSA devised the software for leveraging Dextre during RRM operations. CSA tested the software with flight-like tools, in association with NASA Goddard and Johnson Space Center.
The RRM module consists of four unique tools developed at Goddard such as the Multifunction Tool, the Nozzle Tool, Wire Cutter and Blanket Manipulation Tool, and the Safety Cap Removal Tool. Dextre can chose any of these tools from storage bay based on the application. Each tool is equipped with two integral cameras with incorporated LEDs to enable mission controllers to leverage the tools.
On September 6-7, 2011, Dextre robot was employed to unlock the four RRM tools from the RRM module and Dextre's integrated hand camera was deployed for imaging the RRM hardware between sunlight and darkness, the resulting data will support machine vision algorithms. RRM results will be presented from May 30-31, 2012, at the Second International Workshop on On-Orbit Satellite Servicing.