Dextre's Fuel Transfer task: Fill'er up, Robot!

Dextre tops off the tank: The Robotic Refueling Mission (January 2013)

YouTube Video

This animation gives an overview of the next operations for the Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM), scheduled to take place from January 14-24, 2013. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency)

In January 2013, Dextre will perform the first attempt to demonstrate that a robot can refuel a satellite in orbit. Since the fuel tank on real satellites are triple-sealed to avoid hazardous leaks, Dextre will start by removing a series of seals, nuts and safety caps, each tethered by a wire (much like the gas cap on a car is held in place by a small strip of plastic). The actual refueling test will take place on Day 6 (see below). Since Dextre will be sitting on the end of Canadarm2 (which tends to flex slightly) for the operations, Dextre will need to stabilize himself by using one of his arms to hold on to a nearby fixture. Using the other arm Dextre will then position the NASA-built Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) nozzle tool, equipped with a 50-cm hose (like the hose at a standard gas pump), on a valve and open a nut so that the fluid can be transferred to the RRM module. Operators at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center will then send the commands to transfer the fuel. Once complete, Dextre will back away, leaving behind a Quick Disconnect adapter on the valve to prevent the fluid from leaking.

Dextre's duties, Day by DayFootnote 1

Day 1 (January 14): Tertiary Cap Removal

  • Dextre grasped and unstowed the wire-cutting tool from the RRM module
  • Cut a safety wire on the tertiary cap
  • Using the other arm, grasped and unstowed the multi-function tool and used it to remove the tertiary cap

Day 2 (January 15):

  • Stowed the tertiary cap in its receptacle on the RRM module
  • Temporary pause in the operations to verify the control software for Canadarm2

Day 3 (January 17): Wire cuts

  • Cut a safety cap wire
  • Cut a second wire hold an actuation nut in place
  • Stowed the wire-cutting tool
  • Stowed the multi-function tool

Day 4 (January 22): Tackle the Safety Cap

  • Grasp the safety-cap tool and unstow it
  • Check out the safety-cap receptacle where used caps will be stowed
  • Remove the safety cap
  • Stow the safety cap tool

Day 5 (January 23): Preparation for refueling

  • Dextre will use one of his arms to grab onto a nearby fixture for added stability
  • Grasp the nozzle tool and unstow it

Day 6 (January 24): Refueling

  • Open an actuation nut
  • Fuel the RRM module
  • Release the nozzle, leaving behind a Quick Disconnect adapter to seal the valve and
  • Stow the nozzle tool and release the stabilization fixture


Footnote 1

Operations and schedule subject to change.

Return to footnote 1 referrer