Operator Assistance for Telepresent On-Orbit Servicing

M. Wilde and U. Walter (Germany)


Telerobotics, Space robotics, Telepresence, On-orbitservicing


On-Orbit Servicing (OOS), meaning inspection, upgrade, repair, replenishment or maneuvering of a spacecraft on orbit, promises to be a capability with the potential to change the way space business is conducted, for manufacturers, operators, and insurers. The Institute of Astronautics (LRT) of Technische Universitaet Muenchen (TUM) is investigating the feasibility of, and technologies for, telepresent on-orbit servicing. With this approach, a human operator on ground controls a servicer satellite via geostationary relay satellite in real time, thereby giving him or her at least semi-global access and over 45 minutes of uninterrupted manipulation time. It is argued that this telepresent approach to controlling a freeflying servicer satellite is similar to operating Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) underneath the oceans. However, in some respects the space environment is markedly different from the underwater environment and also from operators’ every day experience of physics. Therefore, some innovative assistance technologies and methods are required in order to enable the operator to efficiently and safely operate a satellite platform and robotic manipulators with two satellites in close proximity to each other. This paper describes the reasoning, methods, and technologies being investigated by LRT as part of its participation in the collaborative research center “High Fidelity Telepresence and Teleaction”.

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