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Intelligent Robotics Group To Build Dragonfly Robot UI as Part of Space Technology Mission Directorate 'Tipping Point' Award
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Intelligent Robotics Group To Build Dragonfly Robot UI as Part of Space Technology Mission Directorate 'Tipping Point' Award

The Intelligent Robotics Group (IRG) will build the robot User Interface (UI) for Dragonfly, which has just been awarded Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) ‘Tipping Point’ Emerging Space Capabilities program funding. Dragonfly will be an on-orbit robotic installation and reconfiguration of large solid radio frequency reflectors. Dragonfly's objective is to demonstrate in-space robotic assembly of an antenna, which will provide a practical way to increase the size and number of solid reflectors on satellites. Phase 1 will run for two years and includes a 1-g ground demonstration and design work through the Critical Design Review (CDR). Phase 2 will also run for two years and will culminate with an in-space demonstration with a commercial satellite.

IRG will partner with three private companies and one other NASA center on Dragonfly. Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) will be responsible for program management, system architecture, and engineering. MacDonald, Dettwiller, and Associates (MDA) will build the robot demo (MDA U.S.) and the robot control (MDA Toronto). Tethers Unlimited, Inc. (TUI) will contribute additive manufacturing. And NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) will engineer on-orbit assembly techniques and devices.

BACKGROUND: Dragonfly is one of nine projects and partnerships with U.S. companies that the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)‘Tipping Point’ Emerging Space Capabilities program has just announced. The Tipping Point program seeks to advance the Agency’s goals for robotic and human exploration of the solar system by shepherding the development of critical space technologies through partnerships with the commercial space sector that not only leverage capabilities to meet NASA's strategic goals, but also focus on U.S. industry markets that are at a tipping point for commercialization and technology infusion. A technology is considered at the tipping point if an investment in a demonstration of its capabilities would result in a significant advancement of the technology's maturation, high likelihood of infusion into a commercial space application, and significant improvement in the ability to successfully bring the technology to market. Contracts range in value from $1-20 million, and each have an approximate two-year performance period culminating in a system-level demonstration of the technology.

NASA also secured partnerships with thirteen U.S. companies through the Announcement of Collaborative Opportunity (ACO) solicitation, "Utilizing Public-Private Partnerships to Advance Emerging Space Technology System Capabilities.” Through these partnerships, NASA will provide technical expertise and test facilities to aid industry partners in maturing key space technologies.

PROGRAM FUNDING: ‘Tipping Point’ Emerging Space Capabilities program, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

POC: Terry Fong, terry.fong@nasa.gov

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