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Integrated System for Autonomous & Adaptive Caretaking Research Project Completes 5th Space Station Activity
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Integrated System for Autonomous & Adaptive Caretaking Research Project Completes 5th Space Station Activity

On March 31st, 2022, the fifth Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) research activity took place on the International Space Station (ISS). The primary objective of the activity was for crew to manually fly the Bumble Astrobee through the U.S. Destiny Lab module to collect NavCam imagery for building an initial sparse map to enable Astrobee localization. At the same time, Bumble’s HazCam and SciCam sensors were collecting 3D point clouds and high-resolution images to use as a further test of ISAAC’s 3D mapping system in a new module. Data was collected that satisfied all primary and secondary objectives. This was the second activity for ISAAC's 2022 phase 1X effort.

With less than 24 hours warning, the ISAAC-5 schedule was moved up from April 15 to March 31 due to unexpected availability of a block of crew time. Thanks to thorough advance preparation, the ISAAC and Astrobee Facility teams were able to respond rapidly and take advantage of the opportunity. Supported by German (DLR) astronaut Matthias Maurer, Astrobee operations on the ISS went very smoothly. Post-activity data analysis will start in a few days, after downlink.

During ISAAC-5, Matthias also briefly flew Bumble through the Node 2 module, giving the team a chance to test Astrobee’s ability to localize itself there using the sparse map imagery collected during the previous ISAAC-4 activity. Despite earlier concerns that the darker interior lighting in Node 2 would hurt Astrobee localization, initial indications are good. This improves confidence going into the next activity, ISAAC-6, which will be Astrobee's first autonomous flight outside the Japanese Experiment Module and into another module.

BACKGROUND: ISAAC is a three-year research project (FY20-22) to develop technology for autonomous caretaking of spacecraft, primarily during non-crewed mission phases. Its technology focus is on integrating autonomous Intra-Vehicular Robots (IVRs) with spacecraft infrastructure (power, life support, etc.) and ground control. Its application focus is on capabilities required for Gateway, NASA’s lunar-orbiting spaceport, that also apply to human missions to Mars and beyond. It uses existing IVR like Astrobee on the ISS as an analog for future IVR on Gateway.

NASA PROGRAM FUNDING: Game Changing Development (GCD) Program, Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD)

TEAM: Abiola Akanni, Oleg Alexandrov, J Benton, Maria Bualat, Brian Coltin, Kathryn Hamilton, Marina Moreira, Bob Morris, Joe Pea, Khaled Sharif, Trey Smith, and Ryan Soussan; JOHNSON SPACE CENTER (JSC): Laura Barron, Janette Garcia, Lewis Hill, Nicole Ortega, and Misha Savchenko. Many thanks also to the ISS Astrobee Facility for supporting ISAAC’s use of Astrobee.

POINT OF CONTACT: Jose Benavides,

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