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RRM Task : Gas Fittings Removal Task, Part 1       [go to Part 2]


Part 1 Task Overview

The RRM Gas Fittings Removal task represents the first use of RRM tools on orbit. During the task, robot operators at NASA's Johnson Space Center remotely control Dextre to retrieve RRM tools and go through the tasks required to remove representative fittings (located on the RRM module) that many spacecraft have for the filling of fluids and gases prior to launch.


Operations Play-by-Play


During the first part of the Gas Fittings Removal task (May 7-9, 2012), the following tasks take place:

→ Mission operators direct Dextre to remove three of the RRM tools from the module and perform functional checkouts.

→ Dextre uses the RRM Multifunction tool to release the "launch locks" that kept three tool adapters tightly secure during the shuttle flight of RRM to space station.

→ Dextre uses the Wire Cutter Tool to cut the lock wire (that every spacecraft employs). This activity shows that even tiny lock wire the thickness of four sheets of paper can be isolated and cut using the latest robotic technologies, tools, and precision techniques.

NASA Press Release : NASA and CSA Robotic Operations Advance Satellite Servicing

RRM began operations on the ISS with the Canadian Dextre robot and RRM tools, marking important milestones in satellite-servicing technology and the use of the space station robotic capabilities.

RRM Gas Fittings Removal Task video 03.13.2012 - Highlights from the RRM Gas Fittings Removal Task, Part 1 [Caption] | WMV - 6mb | WMV - 63mb | MOV - 387mb

March 7, 2012


The first day of RRM operations came to a successful conclusion with the achievement of an important milestone: the successful removal and inspection of three RRM tools from their stowage bays within the RRM module. Comprehensive mechanical and electrical "checkouts" of the Safety Cap Tool, the Wire Cutter and Blanket Manipulation Tool, and the Multifunction Tool resulted in a clean bill of health for each satellite-servicing device.

This activity marks the first time that the Canadian Dextre robot has removed an RRM tool from its storage slot. Mission controllers at NASA's Johnson Space Center seamlessly worked together with teams at the Goddard Space Flight Center, the Marshall Space Flight Center, and the Canadian Space Agency's control center in St. Hubert, Quebec to accomplish these important initial tasks.


March 9, 2012


With the severing of two extremely thin wires, NASA's Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) and the Canadian Dextre robot heralded a new era in space robotics and fresh advancements in satellite-servicing tools, technologies, and techniques. On the second day of operations on the International Space Station, the RRM team made great strides in proving that remotely controlled robots and specialized tools can successfully perform satellite-servicing tasks requiring extreme precision in space.

Operations began March 8, 2012 with mission controllers directing Dextre to use the RRM Multifunction Tool to remove the launch locks that kept four tool adapters secure in their receptacles during the shuttle launch of RRM to space. This activity marked the first use of RRM tools in orbit.

Once completed, the 12-foot (3.7 meter) Dextre moved on to perform what the most intricate task ever attempted by a space robot: the use of the RRM Wire Cutter Tool to cut two separate "lock wires" 20 thousandths of an inch (0.5 millimeter) in diameter. Deftly maneuvered by mission operators and Dextre, the Wire Cutter Tool smoothly slid its hook under the individual wires and then severed them with only a few millimeters of clearance. Environmental challenges such as dynamic lighting conditions and jitter were overcome to execute these tasks on the first attempt. Such a wire-cutting activity would be a pre-requisite to removing and servicing various satellite parts on future in-orbit servicing missions.

The first part of the RRM Gas Fittings Removal task will conclude on March 9, 2012 with the transfer and stowage of the RRM Multifunction Tool and Wire Cutter tools from Dextre's "hands" to the RRM module. RRM operations will tentatively resume in May 2012 with the completion of the RRM Gas Fittings Removal Task. The highly anticipated RRM Refueling task is tentatively scheduled for summer 2012.

RRM Photo
A close-up view of the RRM Wire Cutter tool that Dextre uses during the Gas Fittings Removal Task. Credit: NASA


Dextre and RRM 03.07.2012 - The Canadian Dextre robot approaches the RRM module on the International Space Station during the RRM Gas Fittings Removal task. Safety Cap Removed 03.07.2012 - The Canadian Dextre removes the RRM Safety Cap Tool from the RRM module during the RRM Gas Fittings Removal task. Satellite Servicing Center 03.08.2012 - Within the Goddard Satellite Servicing Development Facility, a FANUC industrial robot (blue robot in the middle of the photo) and RRM flight-spare hardware (white structures to the left in the photo) stand ready to help troubleshoot any problems that might arise.
Malfunction tool 03.08.2012 - Dextre moves the RRM Wire Cutter Tool into place before hooking and cutting the wire between two T-valves. Malfunction tool 03.08.2012 - With the Earth as its backdrop, the International Space Station's Canadian Dextre robot moves the RRM Multifunction Tool towards the RRM module. Malfunction tool 03.09.2012 - Dextre "hangs out" in space with two Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) tools in its "hands." The RRM module is in the foreground.


[go to Part 2]