Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation (ASTRA) Symposium 2019

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FAIR-SPACE was proud to showcase it’s current and future work at the “Advanced Space Technologies in Robotics and Automation” (ASTRA) Symposium, which was held from 27th - 28th May 2019 at ESTEC, ESA’s Space Research and Technology Centre.

Every two years ASTRA gather the space automation and robotic community from all over Europe. Industries and Academics exchange for two days over the state of the art of robotics and automation by sharing their latest advances, findings and project status. This year the Symposium focused on two main components: NASA’s lunar gateway mission (in which Europe will play a major through ESA) and Mars Sample Return (MSR) which aims at bringing back to earth samples collected on Mars by potential rovers.

Nikos Mavrakis, FAIR-SPACE Researcher, presented his paper “Visually Guided Robot Grasping of a Spacecraft’s Apogee Kick Motor”, introducing our novel approach for grasping satellites in orbit through the apogee kick motor. In-orbit servicing or Active Debris Removal requires a docking to the target which is uncooperative in most of cases. While several works already used the existence of an apogee kick motor on the target to dock on it, they relied on specific hardware that would interface between chaser and satellite. The new approach widens the possibilities by using a “generic” robotic arm equipped with a gripper. Click here to read the paper in full.

ASTRA was also an opportunity for FAIR-SPACE to expose a broader view of its work to academics and industries. The event was a great success, with many inspiring interactions, which we hope will lead to some interesting future collaborations.

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