Increasing EVA Capability Through Telerobotics and Free Flyers 911530
As the US expands its presence in space, NASA/DOD requirements to assemble, operate, and maintain facilities in the vacuum of space will grow. Space Station Freedom (SSF) studies have shown that projected requirements for extravehicular activity (EVA) are significantly greater than the capabilities presently planned. Although the SSF design is currently being restructured by NASA with the intent of relieving its requirements for EVA, the limited availability of EVA crew time is still a critical and limiting resource to future growth and expansion. This paper details approaches to advancing extravehicular capability through EVA tools such as telerobotics and free-flyers to ensure the feasibility of assembly and maintenance of large space structures.
We detail these approaches through results from aerobrake and propellant tank farm neutral buoyancy testing undertaken by McDonnell Douglas Space Systems Company (MDSSC) Independent Research and Development (IRAD). The testing combined EVA and telerobotics in neutral buoyancy to best enhance EVA capability.
The combination of EVA and telerobotics will have a significant impact on the completion of NASA on-orbit objectives. The propellant tank farm and aerobrake testbed used provide a unique environment for this combination, and test results have direct application to SSF, SSF evolution, and Space Exploration Initiative mission development.