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NASA Completes Robotic Satellite Refueling Test, Demos; Frank Cepollina Comments

NASAbuildingNASA has completed a test on space robot refueling technologies as part of the agency’s campaign to use both robots and humans to repairand maintain spacecraft.

The agency said on March 5 that the Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test was held in conjunction with the Robotic Refueling Mission on the International Space Station as NASA plans to hold a ground-based test using a mock satellite client and a robotic servicer system.

“RROxiTT gives NASA, and the satellite community at large, confidence that advanced satellite refueling and maintenance technologies aren’t a wild dream of the future,” said Frank Cepollina, associate director of the satellite servicing capabilities office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

The nine-day test focused on the more than 400 satellites in geosynchronous Earth orbit and NASA’s team transferred the oxidizer propellant to the mock satellite tank with technologies such as a propellant transfer system.

A roboticist at Goddard in Maryland remotely-operated an industrial robot based at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

NASA says the SSCO has been exploring human and robotic satellite servicing tools and is working to develop technologies for on-orbit spacecraft inspection, component replacement and other activities.

SSCO intends to extend satellites’ functional life, prepare for operational challenges and build up the commercial satellite-servicing market.

The agency wants the technology to eventually be applicable for pre-launch servicing and extend to transferring xenon propellant.

SSCO is preparing for future demonstrations of other satellite servicing tools and testing of new technologies.

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