NASA’s groundbreaking Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) will reach a key milestone in September when the International Space Station (ISS) robots transfer the module to its permanent home on space station’s ExPRESS Logistics Carrier-4. Robotic operations for the technology demonstration are currently slated to begin soon afterwards.
A joint effort between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, RRM is designed to demonstrate the technologies, tools, and techniques needed to robotically service satellites, especially those not built with servicing in mind.The results of this two-year technology test bed are expected to the reduce risks associated with satellite servicing as well as lay the foundation and encourage future robotic servicing missions. Such future missions could include the repair and repositioning of orbiting satellites.
President Obama called the RRM demonstration “innovative” during a July 15 phone call to STS-135 astronauts onboard the ISS noting its potential future benefits to the commercial satellite industry. “It’s a good reminder of how NASA technology and research often times has huge spillover effects into the commercial sector, and makes it all that much more important in terms of peoples’ day to day lives.”Launched to the ISS in July onboard the last shuttle mission, RRM marks the first use of the space station’s Dextre robot beyond robotic station maintenance for technology research and development. It is also the first on-orbit demonstration to test, prove and advance the technology needed to perform robotic servicing on spacecraft not designed for refueling and repair.