A follow-up to the March 2012 Gas Fittings Removal Task Part 1, GFR Part 2 continues to use the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) tools - in particular the Multifunction Tool and its corresponding adapters - to demonstrate how a space robot could remove and manipulate representative fittings and interfaces on many satellites for the filling of fluids before launch. At the completion of these operations, the RRM team looks forward to its next set of on-orbit operations: the highly anticipated Refueling demonstration tentatively scheduled for late summer 2012.
RRM Multifunction Tool (MFT) is the star of the June 2012 RRM operations. The "MFT" is designed to connect to a variety of specialized adapters to perform a wide range of servicing tasks on the RRM module.
06.18.2012 - With the Tertiary Cap Adapter attached to the Multifunction Tool, mission operators can safely remove and stow the outermost layer of protection on the representative RRM satellite fuel valve.
The following GFR Part 2 activities took place on the International Space Station from June 19 to 22, 2012:First, mission operators use the Canadian Dextre robot to equip the RRM Multifunction Tool with the T-valve Adapter. The Multifunction Tool then proceeds to remove and stow a T-valve - the same one had its wire cut by the RRM Wire Cutting Tool in March 2012.
With this task complete, Dextre then switches the adapters on the RRM Multifunction Tool so the tool can remove and stow an ambient cap. This is the same famous cap that was featured during the March 2012 operations, when Dextre and the RRM Wire Cutting Tool expertly snipped the two twisted wires - the thickness of a mere four sheets of paper - that closely hugged the cap.
Next, Dextre moves on to connect a third adapter to the RRM Multifunction Tool so that it can manipulate a plug that lies beneath the ambient cap.
Finally, Dextre uses the RRM Multifunction Tool to pick-up the Tertiary Cap Adapter. On many satellites, tertiary caps are the outermost layer of the hardware sealing access to a satellite's fuel line. Having this adapter in hand allows the RRM team to be one step ahead when they start the Refueling demonstration, tentatively set for late summer 2012.
By the end of their first day back on the job, RRM and Dextre had successfully used the Multifunction Tool to remove and stow a T-valve, the first of four main tasks on the docket for Part 2 of the Gas Fittings Removal Task. The Ambient Cap Adapter is now in place at the end of the Multifunction Tool, ready to complete the next round of operations on the International Space Station.
The RRM and Dextre duo made history in March when Dextre severed two extremely thin wires (the thickness of four sheets of paper) with only a few millimeters of clearance on the ambient cap — the most precise task performed by a robot in space to date. During the second day of RRM operations, Dextre will use the RRM Multifunction Tool with its corresponding Ambient Cap Adapter to remove and stow an ambient cap — a piece of hardware that would cover important fluid and gas lines on a real satellite. Mission operators will also use the Multifunction Tool to remove and manipulate a plug (located under the ambient cap) on the RRM module. Stay tuned for the next update!
06.20.2012 - RRM operations begin again on the International Space Station. During the second part of the Gas Fittings Removal task, the Canadian Dextre robot (bottom) performs a new set of satellite-servicing tasks on the RRM module (center).
06.20.2012 - The RRM Multifunction Tool (left), built at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, approaches the T-Valve Adapter (bottom right) on the RRM module. The Multifunction Tool will use this adapter to pick up a T-Valve, a part found on many satellites.
06.20.2012 - Now that the T-Valve Adapter (center) is firmly attached to the Multifunction Tool, mission controllers get the Multifunction Tool into position to pick up the T-Valve (not shown) on the RRM module.
06.20.2012 - The Multifunction Tool with its T-Valve Adapter closes in to retrieve the T-Valve on the RRM module. By demonstrating these types of tasks, RRM is laying the foundation for robotic satellite servicing on orbit.
At the end of this second day of operations, Dextre has shown the RRM Multifunction Tool's versatility in completing satellite-servicing tasks. During the last few hours, Dextre used the Multifunction Tool and the Ambient Cap Adapter to remove and stow an ambient cap — a piece of hardware that would cover important fluid and gas lines on a real satellite. The Multifunction Tool also picked up the Plug Manipulation Adapter, which it will use to remove and manipulate a plug located under the ambient cap on the RRM module.
The Multifunction Tool, or "MFT," was designed to be compact and multipurpose so that it can deliver smart and cost-effective servicing options in space. To date, Dextre and MFT have picked up three different adapters to remove and manipulate representative satellite hardware on the RRM module. Now that these activities have been successfully completed, the RRM team will use the last day of operations to manipulate a plug and prepare for the namesake Refueling task. Stay tuned for the next update!
During the last day of operations, Dextre and the Multifunction Tool used the Plug Manipulation Adapter to — you guess it — manipulate a plug that was located under the ambient cap on the RRM module. Next, Dextre and the Multifunction Tool picked up the Tertiary Cap Adapter, the last task assigned to the Multifunction Tool for this set of operations. Dextre safely stowed the Tool and the connected adapter so that when RRM operations begin again, the pair can remove a tertiary cap — an early step to demonstrating fluid transfer on the RRM module. Dextre also checked out the lights on the RRM Nozzle tools in preparation for the upcoming Refueling task. Prepared to make robotic history yet again, RRM and Dextre are tentatively scheduled to begin the highly anticipated Refueling demonstration later this summer. Until then, continue to check the SSPD website, Facebook and Twitter for more updates on the Robotic Refueling Mission and NASA's satellite servicing activities. Thanks for visiting![go to Part 1]