This animation gives an overview of the next operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), scheduled for June 19-21, 2012. A collaboration between NASA and the Canadian Space Agency, the Robotic Refueling Mission 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.
For the mission, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center designed and built a mock satellite (roughly the size of a washing machine) fitted with various caps, nozzles and valves like those found on satellites. While perched on the end of Canadarm2, Dextre begins by using the multifunction tool to unscrew a t-valve on the module and stow it in a special receptacle. Afterward, the robot picks up an adapter and places it on the ambient cap (similar to a gas cap on a car), removes the cap and stows it in a special compartment on the module. Dextre then picks up a tool adapter and performs a series of intricate operations inside the plug (beneath the cap, and therefore hidden from view) using a plunger to simulate breaking a seal on a fuel tank, a step that would be essential for refueling a satellite. Dextre then cleans up his workspace by putting away his tools and adapters at the end of the operations.