Motiv Space Systems (Motiv) proposes a novel in-space assembly mount to enable high accuracy structural assembly on-orbit. The Kinematic Assembly-in-Space Mount (KASM) is a lightweight, high accuracy assembly tool that is self-seating/locking and can be placed into position by almost any robotic manipulator yet yield positional tolerances many orders of magnitude greater.
Kinematic mounts are used in a multitude of highly technical industries including optics, manufacturing and industrial robotics. Development of a similar space qualified kinematic mount to be used in conjunction with robotic systems would provide significant added capability to On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing (OSAM) tasks. At the crux of these assembly tasks, is the challenge of connecting elements together such as antenna and telescope mirror panels, boom sections, rigidized structural components and the like. Furthermore, it has been shown that robotic systems can be leveraged to perform many of these on-orbit assembly tasks thereby minimizing the need for human-in-the-loop efforts. This reduces risk and expense of utilizing astronauts to accomplish these tasks while still providing complex assembly capability. Development of a highly characterized simple, yet elegant interface for these on-orbit assembly tasks will prove to be exceptionally useful for future space-flight missions.
During the SBIR Phase I effort Motiv intends on building simplified prototypes to empirically study the sensitivities of critical geometric features, material properties and other influencing factors. Similar studies have been conducted but not with space-flight mission assembly tasks in mind.
The KASM can be utilized for any future on-orbit assembly task. Servicing missions could leverage this technology on the host spacecraft where practical. Furthermore, the KASM could be used on future planetary lander missions where modularity, assembly and reconfiguration of equipment is needed.
The KASM technology could fit within the technologies under study for the NASA Restore program which is evaluating a variety of on-orbit assembly approaches. The Artemis program will also need to evaluate future lunar infrastructure assembly techniques.
Several new companies have been founded to address a new in-space commerce model. Some of these concepts include novel hosting of aggregated payloads, on-orbit construction, in-space depots, among other concepts. The KASM is a scalable architecture that can aid any of these proposed mission scenarios.