SSPD Celebrates National Robotics Week!

April 4-12, 2015
Robots are the centerpiece of the Servicing Technology Center in the quest to test, hone and refine tools, techniques and technologies for satellite servicing. Differing in size, reach and strength, these robots all serve a specific purpose.

Originally designed and manufactured for the assembly line, after purchasing it, we reprogrammed this robot - the smallest of our fleet - for training and software development. Also, this is our only robot to have flown in zero-gravity to test capture techniques and algorithms in a space-like environment. With a reach of only about 28 inches, this robot is best for small spaces with light payloads. This bigger, stronger robot is one of SSPD's primary helpers in the Servicing Technology Center. This industrial robot was the well-travelled star of our 2014 Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test, also known as RROxiTT. A multi-Center collaboration, RROxiTT was a remotely controlled evaluation of new technologies that will empower future space robots to transfer hazardous and corrosive satellite oxidizer into the propellant tanks of spacecraft in space today. Painted NASA-blue and ready to lift! This industrial robot is the strongest in SSPD's fleet.  For the last six years, its biggest claim to fame has been testing tools and procedures for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), an experiment on @ISS_Research! Housed in our Servicing Technology Center, this robot emulates the Dextre robot on the International Space Station.  This allows our team to write and fine-tune procedures for Dextre to follow during RRM operations - which, coincidentally, are gearing up to resume later this year.  More commonly used for flight simulators, we use this particular robot as a dynamic platform to simulate three-dimensional, zero-gravity contact physics - i.e., how things interact and react to each other when contact occurs in space. This realistic reflection of space enables engineers and programmers to fine-tune algorithms to ensure performance of autonomous robots. Most of the robots that we use on the ground are stand-ins for real space robots. Today, we're offering a sneak peek of what a real NASA space robot will look like. This poseable robot is an early full-size model of the robot arm that NASA is creating to tackle a number of activities on orbit. Just like your arm, this robot has shoulder, elbow and wrist joints that can move in multiple ways. These joints give the robot

Meet Two of Our Roboticists!

Robots are only as capable as the people controlling them. Learn about Heather Alpern and Zakiya Tomlinson, two of our roboticists who are hard at work, driving our robots and fine-tuning the technologies and procedures to use robots in space!
Meet Heather Alpern
Heather Alpern, NASA roboticist
"Robots are able to help humans to perform tasks they originally couldn't do. It works the same way in space as it does on Earth!"
Meet Zakiya Tomlinson
Zakiya Tomlinson, NASA roboticist
"I'm currently testing out the blanket manipulation tool and closeout of fill and drain valves after refueling. "
NASA logo
Goddard Space Flight Center