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ISAAC Project Completes First Major Project Review

On June 30, 2021, the Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking (ISAAC) project completed its first major project review, Technical Assessment and Periodic Review 1, with the Game Changing Development (GCD) Program. The review covered: (1) ISAAC phase 1, now completed, including multi-sensor mapping, automated anomaly detection, and three integrated demonstrations with the Astrobee free-flying robots on the International Space Station (ISS); (2) ISAAC phase 2, now in progress, including a multi-robot cargo transport demonstration in software simulation and an integrated control interface to improve operator situation awareness; and (3) ISAAC contributions to the Astrobee platform, including critical improvements in vision-based navigation and other updates that make Astrobee flight software easier to interface with for guest science users. Initial informal feedback from the review board was very positive. The board endorsed the project’s rough plan to descope phase 2 demonstrations on ISS that are no longer feasible due to lack of Robonaut (the humanoid robot) availability on ISS, and to refocus effort on further maturing multi-sensor mapping, with the potential for near-term infusion of that technology into ISS operations.

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.


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