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ISAAC Project Completes Phase 1 Campaign with Astrobee Free-Flyer Robots on the International Space Station
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ISAAC Project Completes Phase 1 Campaign with Astrobee Free-Flyer Robots on the International Space Station

On April 19th, 2021, the third Integrated System for the Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) Astrobee free-flyer robot activity on the International Space Station (ISS) took place. Both phase 1 primary objectives were completed successfully: 1) the fault management scenario, where the Astrobee Bumble detected an anomaly; and 2) a complete repeat survey of bay six of the ISS Japanese Exploration Module (JEM) to enable change detection. During its flight, Bumble bumped into cables protruding into the aisle multiple times but was always able to escape without crew rescue. Bumble logged about two and a half hours of flying, interrupted by only one short break on the dock to wait out an ISS loss of signal. This was the final activity for ISAAC's phase 1 effort. Looking forward, in phase 2 we are now developing a multi-robot cargo transport scenario involving Astrobee and the Robonaut robot and are currently testing the scenario in software simulation.

BACKGROUND: ISAAC is a three-year research project (fiscal years 2020-22) to develop technology for autonomous caretaking of spacecraft primarily during uncrewed mission phases. ISAAC’s technology focus is on integrating autonomous Intra-Vehicular Robots (IVRs) with spacecraft infrastructure (power, life support, etc.) and ground control. ISAAC’s application focus is on developing capabilities required for the Lunar Gateway space station hub that also apply to human missions to Mars and beyond. It uses existing IVRs on the ISS (Astrobee, Robonaut) as an analog for future IVRs 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; 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.


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