Session

Pre-Conference Workshop Session I: Advanced Concepts I

Location

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Abstract

Key gaps limiting in-space assembly of small satellites are (1) the lack of standardization of electromechanical CubeSat components for compatibility with commercial robotic assembly hardware, and (2) testing and modifying commercial robotic assembly hardware suitable for small satellite assembly for space operation. Working toward gap (1), the lack of standardization of CubeSat components for compatibility with commercial robotic assembly hardware, we have developed a ground-based robotic assembly of a 1U CubeSat using modular components and Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) robot arms without humans-in-the-loop. Two 16 in x 7 in x 7 in dexterous robot arms, weighing 2 kg each, are shown to work together to grasp and assemble CubeSat components into a 1U CubeSat. Addressing gap (2) in this work, solutions for adapting power-efficient COTS robot arms to assemble highly-capable CubeSats are examined. Lessons learned on thermal and power considerations for overheated motors and positioning errors were also encountered and resolved. We find that COTS robot arms with sustained throughput and processing efficiency have the potential to be cost-effective for future space missions. The two robot arms assembled a 1U CubeSat prototype in less than eight minutes.

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Aug 1st, 12:00 AM

Ground-Based 1U CubeSat Robotic Assembly Demonstration

Utah State University, Logan, UT

Key gaps limiting in-space assembly of small satellites are (1) the lack of standardization of electromechanical CubeSat components for compatibility with commercial robotic assembly hardware, and (2) testing and modifying commercial robotic assembly hardware suitable for small satellite assembly for space operation. Working toward gap (1), the lack of standardization of CubeSat components for compatibility with commercial robotic assembly hardware, we have developed a ground-based robotic assembly of a 1U CubeSat using modular components and Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) robot arms without humans-in-the-loop. Two 16 in x 7 in x 7 in dexterous robot arms, weighing 2 kg each, are shown to work together to grasp and assemble CubeSat components into a 1U CubeSat. Addressing gap (2) in this work, solutions for adapting power-efficient COTS robot arms to assemble highly-capable CubeSats are examined. Lessons learned on thermal and power considerations for overheated motors and positioning errors were also encountered and resolved. We find that COTS robot arms with sustained throughput and processing efficiency have the potential to be cost-effective for future space missions. The two robot arms assembled a 1U CubeSat prototype in less than eight minutes.