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Dextre tops off the tank: The Robotic Refueling Mission (January 2013)

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Published on Jan 9, 2013

This animation gives an overview of the next operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), scheduled to take place from January 14-23, 2013. (Animation credit: CSA)

During this part of RRM, Dextre will perform the first attempt to demonstrate that a robot can refuel a satellite in orbit. Since the fuel tank on real satellites are triple-sealed to avoid hazardous leaks, Dextre will start by removing a series of seals, nuts and safety caps, each tethered by a wire (much like the gas cap on a car is held in place by a small strip of plastic). The actual refueling test will take place on Day 5 (see below). Dextre will be sitting on the end of Canadarm2 for the operations (which tends to flex slightly), so he will need to stabilize himself by using one of his arms to hold on to a nearby fixture. Using the other arm, Dextre will then position the NASA-built RRM nozzle tool, equipped with a 50-cm hose (like the hose at a standard gas pump), on a valve and open a nut so that the fluid can be transferred to the RRM module. Operators at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will then send the commands to transfer the fuel. Once complete, Dextre will back away, leaving behind a Quick Disconnect adapter on the valve to prevent the fluid from leaking.

A collaboration between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, RRM is an experiment on the exterior of the International Space Station that uses Dextre, the Station's Canadian-built robotic handyman, to test the technologies, tools and techniques that could be used to service and refuel satellites in orbit, especially those not built to be refurbished. The mission showcases the most intricate work ever performed by a robot in space. Learn more about the Robotic Refueling Mission at http://www.asc-csa.gc.ca/eng/iss/dext... and follow the operations on Twitter (@csa_asc).


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