The increasing number of launched satellites per year, calls for solutions to keep free operational space for telecommunication systems in geo-synchronized orbit, as well as to avoid the endangering of space systems in LEO and of the public living in the habited parts on Earth.
A feasible way to handle such problems might be to enforce the operational requirement to use some dedicated residual fuel for a controlled de-orbiting, or in case of GEO, to lift the satellites at their end of life into the graveyard orbit. Despite these measures, malfunctions of solar generators, control systems or thrusters cannot be avoided. Therefore, on-orbit servicing (OOS) will be a mandatory and challenging topic for space robotics in the near future.
The outcome of the previous national German projects ROTEX, ESS and GETEX/ETS-VII represent a know-how which can be directly applied for the development of OOS-Robotic systems. Control structures and operational modes for space robotics systems are addressed within the presentation. The national project ROKVISS (Robotic Component Verification on ISS) provides the necessary space-qualified hardware as well as the very powerful tele-presence operational mode. A description of the ROKVISS mission will be given.
The purpose of the space robotic mission DEOS (German On Orbit Servicing Mission) is to demonstrate the feasibility and technical readiness of on orbit servicing. The control structures for satellite capturing with various degrees of interaction between the robot and the satellite controllers are explained.
The first business case for on-orbit servicing will become reality within the next few years. The so-called Orbital Life Extension System (S-OLEV?) will operate as an orbital tugboat, supplying the propulsion, navigation and guidance to keep a telecommunication satellite in its dedicated orbital slot for several additional years (station keeping). A description of the final approach and capture strategy will be given.
The presentation will close with an overview about recent rover and crawler developments.