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Inspire II-Halo Development on Track For Payload Safety Review Phase III on October 29th
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Inspire II-Halo Development on Track For Payload Safety Review Phase III on October 29th

The Synchronized Position Hold, Engage, Reorient, Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) project is providing facility and Integration & Testing (I&T) support for the Inspire-II Halo International Space Station (ISS) hardware. The Inspire-II project is developing a cost-effective facility for maturing adaptive Guidance, Navigation, and Control (GNC) technology in support of on-orbit, robotic satellite assembly in a risk-tolerant, dynamically-authentic environment. The Inspire-II Halo hardware allows each SPHERES satellite (a bowling-ball sized spherical satellite with power, propulsion, computers, and navigation used for inspections, maintenance, spacecraft assembly, and other operations) to interface with six external objects simultaneously through rigid mechanical and electrical interfaces called “Halo Ports” (HPs). The Inspire-II Halo hardware is targeted for delivery to the ISS on SpaceX Cargo ReSupply mission 9 (SpX-9), and is on track for the Payload Safety Review Phase III coming up this October 29th.

BACKGROUND: Halo is a ring-shaped structure that is fastened around a SPHERES satellite. The structure is made out of several pieces of 3D-printed plastic that enclose six printed circuit boards. It provides six expansion ports, power, data connections, and computing power for each. The structure is designed so that the thrusters and sensors of the SPHERES satellite are not blocked. Halo is intended to make the SPHERES platform more versatile. The device vastly increases the capability and flexibility of SPHERES and allows a wider range of experiments to be conducted. Importantly, Halo also creates opportunity for future development by providing a platform for future hardware.

The Inspire-II project has also developed a Universal Docking Port (UDP) for the SPHERES, which provides the ability to autonomously dock and undock in Six Degrees of Freedom (6DoF). Previously, SPHERES could only dock with the use of Velcro pads, docked SPHERES couldn't perform maneuvers together, and two SPHERES could only undock with the assistance of an astronaut. The UDP, in contrast, allows SPHERES to dock and undock fully automatically, and in many different configurations.

PROGRAM FUNDING: The NASA Ames SPHERES team is funded by the Advance Exploration Systems (AES) program, Human Exploration and Operations Mission directorate (HEOMD).

The Inspire-II project is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) funded project led out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

ARC SPHERES TEAM: Jonathan Barlow, Jose Benavides, Jose Cortez, Robert Hanson, Simeon Kanis, Aric Katterhagen, Darryl LeVasseur, Ken Oyadomari, and Cedric Priscal

POC: Jose Benavides, jose.v.benavides@nasa.gov

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