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Micro-Inspector Spacecraft for Space Exploration MissionsNASA is seeking to embark on a new set of human and robotic exploration missions back to the Moon, to Mars, and destinations beyond. Key strategic technical challenges will need to be addressed to realize this new vision for space exploration, including improvements in safety and reliability to improve robustness of space operations. Under sponsorship by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), together with its partners in government (NASA Johnson Space Center) and industry (Boeing, Vacco Industries, Ashwin-Ushas Inc.) is developing an ultra-low mass (<3.0 kg) free-flying micro-inspector spacecraft in an effort to enhance safety and reduce risk in future human and exploration missions. The micro-inspector will provide remote vehicle inspections to ensure safety and reliability, or to provide monitoring of in-space assembly. The micro-inspector spacecraft represents an inherently modular system addition that can improve safety and support multiple host vehicles in multiple applications. On human missions, it may help extend the reach of human explorers, decreasing human EVA time to reduce mission cost and risk. The micro-inspector development is the continuation of an effort begun under NASA's Office of Aerospace Technology Enabling Concepts and Technology (ECT) program. The micro-inspector uses miniaturized celestial sensors; relies on a combination of solar power and batteries (allowing for unlimited operation in the sun and up to 4 hours in the shade); utilizes a low-pressure, low-leakage liquid butane propellant system for added safety; and includes multi-functional structure for high system-level integration and miniaturization. Versions of this system to be designed and developed under the H&RT program will include additional capabilities for on-board, vision-based navigation, spacecraft inspection, and collision avoidance, and will be demonstrated in a ground-based, space-related environment. These features make the micro-inspector design unique in its ability to serve crewed as well as robotic spacecraft, well beyond Earth-orbit and into arenas such as robotic missions, where human teleoperation capability is not locally available.
Document ID
20090026376
Document Type
Conference Paper
External Source(s)
Authors
Mueller, Juergen
Alkalai, Leon
Lewis, Carol
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
February 15, 2005
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing and Performance
Meeting Information
Space Technology and Applications International Forum (STAIF - 2005)(New Mexico)
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Other
Keywords
microspacecraft
space exploration