OSAM promises not only to be an enabler of missions involving large space structures, but also provides opportunity for reduced cost and risk, improved mission resilience and flexibility, and extended life through servicing, particularly in comparison to the current monolithic single-launch paradigm. However, several technical hurdles will need to be surmounted before the use of autonomous robots and systems to realize OSAM can become feasible. In particular, on-orbit assembly and manufacturing activities introduce significant uncertainty into structural behavior and integrity, and this uncertainty cannot be fully characterized a priori. To address this issue, ATA Engineering proposes to develop methods and software to identify post-build structural parameters and update OSAM robot control systems to ensure stable and robust autonomous operations. The proposed technologies utilize and interface with the robotic systems but are agnostic to their mechanical design and control system architecture, making the proposed solution particularly adaptable in this rapidly progressing field.
OSAM activities are associated with NASA’s ambitious plans for science missions and space exploration in the coming decades, as evidenced by pursuit of the OSAM-1/2 missions, sponsoring of the iSAT study, and organization of the OSAM National Initiative. Lunar missions will also benefit, as robotic construction of the lunar gateway is one of many envisioned features of the Moon to Mars campaign. Reduced uncertainty in these and future systems will enable improved control and robustness for assembly and manufacturing robots.
The defense industry will benefit from the ability to build large-aperture antennas and telescopes as well as platforms for space situational awareness, servicing, and other applications. In the commercial market, satellite developers are also interested in large antenna construction, and space resource mining would benefit from OSAM platforms.