Archive for the ‘Teleoperators’ Category

1960 – Project Mercury Converted Capsule – NASA (American)

 1960   Project Mercury Converted Capsule   NASA (American)

A second concept for a nonantropomorphic-type space suit would essentially be constructed from off-the-shelf items. It would be possible to utilize the Project Mercury Space Capsule and re-entry body as a space suit for assembly, maintenance, or similar-type functions. To do this, the major additions to the system would merely be a translucent plastic observation port on the forward portion of the capsule and an assembly of mechanical arms to be attached in place of the parachute package. These arms could in turn be foldable into their shaft holder. Figure 2 illustrates the design configuration. Modifications of the capsule world also be necessary in that the fuel tanks for propulsion would have to be enlarged to allow maneuvers in space. The interior would have tope slightly rearranged to allow inclusion of controls and panels associated with the mechanical appendages. While there are many disadvantages to this system (e.g., provisions for stabilization of attachments to a second vehicle while accomplishing tasks are presently not considered feasible), the most immediate advantages are the decreased cost of development and the fact that this vehicle may be included in a satellite system for utilisation as an escape vehicle which is readily altered, while spaceborne, into an astro-tug.
The feasibility of a capsule of this nature must be considered in any future analysis of an extra-vehicular space suit.

Source: "Survey of Remote Handling in Space", D. Frederick Baker,  USAF, 1962

mercury capsule cutaway x640 1960   Project Mercury Converted Capsule   NASA (American)

A cutaway of the Mercury Space Capsule.

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1961 – Orbital Space Tug – General Electric (American)

 1961   Orbital Space Tug   General Electric  (American)

GE Orbital Space Tug

The General Electric Company has been active in the manipulator and remote-handling equipment fields for several years. primarily in connection with its nuclear laboratories and test facilities. The application of remote-handling equipment to operations in space and lunar situations is a logical extension the work in remote handling. Remote handling will play a definite role in the exploration of space. Investigations of remote-handling equipment for space operations have indicated that considerable research and development work will be required to produce functional remote-handling systems capable of performing the necessary tasks in space.
A great deal of material has been written about the hazardous nature of the space environment, which precludes the necessity of discussing the reason for remote handling in space. Remote-handling equipment should and will be used wherever possible to eliminate the necessity for directly exposing man to space. Normally, the first approach to design for remote handling for earthbound situations is to avoid it whenever possible. The opposite approach, to make maximum use of remote-handling design principles in designing space vehicles and equipment, may well be required.
The remote-handling equipment still require new design approaches of a revolutionary rather than evolutionary nature.
Many tasks in space may have to be performed by remote-handling equipment. In the near earth orbital region, which ranges roughly from 400 to 600 miles above the earth, there are many proposed programs for satellites, manned vehicles, and space stations which will require utilization of manipulators and remote-handling equipment. Such tasks as assembling and disassembling, loading and unloading. inspecting, testing, handling, checkout, and servicing can be performed by remote means. Remote equipment will undoubtedly play an an part in the maintenance of satellites and space stations (see figure 1). Manipulators might be used as a device for grappling, docking, and mating between vehicles or subassembly sections. Several conceptual vehicles for orbital operations, such as the popular space tug have included manipulators as an integral part of their design.

The broad area of lunar missions will include many applications for remote-handling equipment. In addition to the tasks already mentioned, exploration, sampling,  and experimentation might be performed remotely. The construction and servicing of lunar base facilities,  particularly nuclear power systems, may well be handled by remote equipment. A simple, compact, highty dextrous manipulator may be required as an integral part of a space suit to overcome the problem of the gloved hand and to provide a space-suited man with some semblance of manual dexterity. Wheeled or tracked vehicles capable of lunar surface mobility will use remote-handling equipment to perform a variety of functions (see figure 2). As the conquest of space moves from exploration through economic development to mature economic operation, the projected advances in the state-of-the-art of remote-handling equipment dictate that much equipment will be used to an ever-increasing extent in space.
There are, of course, many problem areas associated with the design and development of remote-handling systems for space applications. A rather detailed analysis of the remote-handling tasks for each specific mission will be required. The problems of force feedback and tactile perception are important in terms of the information furnished to the operator of remote-handling equipment and manipulators, as well as the "body image" and "frame of reference" problems. The competent operation of remote-handling equipment is heavily dependent upon visual access. Should this access be remote or direct using optical or television techniques? The areas of output control, control transducers, and control actuation requires considerable study. Present control actuation methods for manipulators do not appear operable in the space environment. Pneumatic or hot gas actuation systems seem to hold promise for application to manipulators. Similarly, the results of concurrent work in the fields of materials, structures, mechanisms, bearings, and seals for space vehicles and equipment will have to be implemented. Special effort may be required in these areas to solve problems peculiar to remote-handling equipment. Early recognition and definition of all these problem areas are instrumental to development work for space remote-handling systems. Basic research will undoubtedly be required in many of these areas.

baker p25a GE x640 1961   Orbital Space Tug   General Electric  (American)

Many general design characteristics of manipulators and associated equipment are already apparent. Early space manipulators are expected to be simple with somewhat limited dexterity and force reflection capability. They will be capable of simple, basic movements and operations. The relative simplicity of these early models will necessarily be due to problems with such items as materials, bearings, seals, and control actuation. Also, the size and weight of equipment associated with manipulators, particularly electrically controlled manipulators, limit the complexity and dexterity of these early systems since there is a limit to early booster payload capability. Early remote manipulators will probably be used to position, locate, and place in operation special, self self-contained automatic mechanisms or programmed machines capable of specific operations as required by the specific mission in order to provide the overall remote-handling ssytem capabilitys A new approach to the design of this equipment is required using previous designs and configurations are guide lines rather than as first approximations. The established philosophy of designing vehicles and equipment to be handled or operated on by remote means so as to augment the remote-handling equipment itself will have to be used to a very great extent. This includes consideration of such things as grasping points, register points, orientation indicators, and pilot pins.
As advances are made in the many technologies used in remote handling, equipment will become more complex and capable of a greater variety of operations. The role which remote handling plays in space can be a large and vital one. Just how large depends upon how much timely develupment work can be started to make equipment available when the need for it arises. Careful planning and study, along with the early initiation of development programs, will insure the future of remote-handling equipment in space.

Source: "Survey of Remote Handling in Space", D. Frederick Baker,  USAF, 1962

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1960 – SLOMAR Space Tug – The Martin Company (American)

1970EaglehasLanded storyoflunar16 x640 1960   SLOMAR Space Tug   The Martin Company (American)

slomar shuttle and tug x640 1960   SLOMAR Space Tug   The Martin Company (American)

spacePod13 1960   SLOMAR Space Tug   The Martin Company (American)

spacePod19 1960   SLOMAR Space Tug   The Martin Company (American)

space Pod martin 2 man 1961 1960   SLOMAR Space Tug   The Martin Company (American)


Above: The 2-man Space Tug

Extra Images sourced from here.

Cancelled Projects: SLOMAR
By Jos Heyman
(with some help from the correspondents of the Secretprojects forum)
In 1959 the US Air Force started the Space Logistics, Operations, Maintenance and Rescue (SLOMAR) study to generate preliminary designs of crewed space vehicles that could support manned military space stations.
SLOMAR was one of ten studies that were part of the USAF’s ‘Space Development Planning Study’ that also included studies covering, amongst others, satellite interception, global surveillance, strategic orbital systems (bombardment satellites), lunar operations, and recoverable orbital launch systems.
In November 1959 a Request for Proposals was issued and ten contractors responded. Of these only Lockheed, General Dynamics, Douglas, Martin and Norair (Northrop) received further funding in June 1960 to the sum of $ 120,000 each. This was to cover studies up to June 1961. It was soon obvious to the contractors that the funding was insufficient to study all areas concerned and each contractor emphasized some aspects only.

Martin suggested a lifting body vehicle with a span of 6.65 m and length of 9.40 m with room for a crew of five.

In spite of not receiving funding, McDonnell suggested its model 15 (?) whereas Bell studies its program 7069, whereas it has been suggested that North American also conducted privately funded SLOMAR studies.
Absent from this all was Boeing but that company was already involved in the development of the X-20 Dyna Soar spacecraft.
The contractors’ submission were evaluated and led to the conclusion that it was possible to have an operational system in use by 1968 for support to orbits up to 925 km and that more than one satellite at a time had to be supported during a mission to make the system cost effective (except for the space station). Furthermore it was clear that guidance of the vehicle was to be self contained and that the total capacity of the vehicles, crew plus passenger, was to be six.
These conclusions were passed on to the Lunar Expedition Project (LUNEX), a secret USAF proposal to put a man on the Moon by 1967 and that would employ a lifting body re-entry vehicle for a crew of three. These efforts were suspended when John Kennedy ordered NASA in May 1961 to get a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.

Above SLOMAR text sourced from here.

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1958 – Astrotug – Lockheed (American)

lockheed astrotug x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Astrotug in Operation – Artist's Conception

lockheed astrotug 1960 ad x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The Astrotug

Tugboat for Space: Spaceborne scientific laboratories and platforms for further exploration into space are an accepted concept based on established engineering techniques. Components would be fired  as individual units into space, on precalculated orbits, and there assembled. To solve the major problems of how men are to live and work in space during the assembly process. Lockheed has prepared a detailed engineering design of an astrotug – a manned vehicle housing a crew of two or three. Missile-launched, the astrotug will be capable of supporting its crew for a number of days in an environments of suitable atmosphere, and with provisions for illumination and adequate food and water.
The Lockheed astrotug is a completely independent working vehicle. Personnel need not leave it in space suits in order to work on the project of assembling the space station components. As shown in the diagram, the tug consists of two double-walled pressure vessels approximately 20 feet long overall and 9 feet inside diameter. Swivelling rocket nozzles are arranged for maneuvering. On the forward end, extending out are four mechanical manipulator arms with interchangeable "hands" for such specialized functions as gripping, welding, hammering, cutting, running screws, etc. "Hands" can be changed by remote control from the inside. Viewing ports provide uninterupted observation. Radar antennas, searchlights, and other equipment necessary to the tug's work are mounted externally. Main controls and instruments including radar, radio, infrared, computers and navigational consoles are duplicated in each of the two major compartments as a safety measure.
Men working in single units afloat in space suits would have little applicable force and could work for very limited periods of time. With the Lockheed astrotug, personnel could carry on the work in relative safety and comfort with maximum efficiency. A special reentry vehicle, separate from the astrotug, has been conceived for ferrying to and from earth. Tugs themselved would remain floating in orbit indefinately, being reprovisioned  and refurbished as fresh crews arrive in relief.


lockheed astrotug 2 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Astrotug Inboard Profile

lockheed astrotug 1 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug 1963 x500 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug03 x378 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

spaceTug07 x446 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

Above 3 images sourced from here.

lockheed spacestation 58 x640 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The 1958 Space Station concept for which the tug was proposed to build.

lockheed ferry vehicle 58 x479 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

The 1958 Transit vehicle to bring crew to the Astrotugs.

lockheed station 63 x250 1958   Astrotug   Lockheed (American)

A 1963 depiction of the Space Station. Note the transition away from the classical 'Wheel' shape.

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1959-61 – Concept O-9 Manned Utility Tug – (American)

 1959 61   Concept O 9 Manned Utility Tug   (American)

Concept O-9: Rendezvous by Manned Utility Tug

From a report compiled between 1959-61 and presented in 1961 are various concepts {Suffixed by 'O' for Orbital Rendezvous). This extract only selects those concepts that have a manipulator component.

Nelson T. Levings, Jr.
Cleveland Pneumatic Industries, Inc.
May 1961
Flight Dynamics Laboratory
Contract No. AF33(616)-6572
Project No. 1369
Task No. 13529
Wright Air Development Division
Air Research and Development Command
United States Air Force
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

The work described in this report was accomplished by the Instrumentation and Control Division of Cleveland Pneumatic Industries, Inc., under Contract No. AF 33(616)-6572, Project No. 1369, entitled, "Launching and Alightment Systems for Aero-Space Vehicles, Task No. 13529.
This project was administered under the direction of the Flight Dynamics Laboratory, Directorate of Advanced Systems Technology, Wright Air Development Division [WADD], with Mr. Wallace Buzzard as Military Project Engineer, having superseded Lt. Don Austin in January 1960.
This report covers work conducted from June 1959 to January 1961.
Mr. Nelson T. Levings, Jr., was Contractor Project Engineer, assisted by specialized engineering personnel from each Division of Cleveland Pneumatic Industries, Inc.



30 Concept O-1: Attachment by Tail Hook Snag 62
31 Concept O-2: Attachment by Self-Guiding Probe Through Hoop 63
32 Concepts O-3 and O-4: Shock Mitigation between Two (2) Axially Aligned Vehicles 64
33 Arresting Gear for Storing Impact Energy for Subsequent Ejection Departure – Concepts 0-3 and 0-4 65
34 Concept O-5- Remotely Controlled Magnetic Contactor on Freely Swinging Cable 66

concept o 6 unmanned utility tug x640 1959 61   Concept O 9 Manned Utility Tug   (American)

35 Concept O-6: Rendezvous by Utility Tug – Remotely Controlled 67
36 Concept O-7: Attachment by Mechanical Grappling Hook – Close Range 68
37 Thrust Compensator and Line Control for Concept 0-7 69
38 Concept O-8: Orbital Attachment by Self-Guiding Probe 70
39 Concept O-9: Rendezvous by Manned Utility Tug {See top for illustration] 71
40 Concept O-10: Rendezvous by Simple, Remotely Controlled Tug 72
41 Concept O-11: Long Range Attachment by Probe and Drogue – Heat or Light Sensitive 73
42 Latch Coupling for Concept 0-11 74
43 Mechanical Magnetic Ring Coupling for Concept 0-11 75
44 Concept O-12: Rendezvous of Axially Aligned Vehicles by Penetration 76
45 Concept O-13: Rendezvous by Surface Contact 77

concept o 13 space suit attachment x640 1959 61   Concept O 9 Manned Utility Tug   (American)
46 Concept O-14: Rendezvous in Matched Orbits by Man in Environmental Suit 78

 1959 61   Concept O 9 Manned Utility Tug   (American)
47 Concept O-15: Attachment by Mechanical Parallelogram Grappler 79

 1959 61   Concept O 9 Manned Utility Tug   (American)
48 Concept O-16: Attachment by Gas Actuated Parallelogram Grappler 80

Work during this phase of the project was faced with many unknowns. Initially, a cursory study was made in the area of orbital mechanics to determine what precision was required from thrust control during orbital rendezvous and if there might be a mass trade-off between shock mitigation and thrust control equipment. Again, airframe manufacturers and other agencies contributed to this effort.
The findings are summarized below:
a. The planes of the orbits of the target and intercept vehicles must be within minutes of arc.
b. The orbits must be matched in shape, size, and orientation within minutes of arc and, at time and point of rendezvous, the vehicles come together within close proximity.
c. The vehicles must be closely "in phase'" to affect rendezvous.
d. The vehicles, in the case of earth orbit rendezvous, should avoid lengthy exposure to the lower Van Allen radiation belt.
e. To make a rendezvous possible, corrective vernier rockets will have to operate within extremely precise limitations of thrust and cut-off times to bring relative velocity within acceptable limits.
f.* It was determined that, if each vehicle's velocity vector does not intercept the other's center of gravity on rendezvous, there may be a tumbling problem after contact.
To hold the mass of the shock mitigation equipment to an acceptable percentage of total mass, relative velocities were not to be considered over 35 ft/sec.
Parameters forming the framework for orbital attachment concepts include the same values applied ia-paragraph 2. 1; therefore:
a. 4 "earth" g's max. safe deceleration.
b. 1.5 safety factor applied to deceleration.
c. Vehicle gross weight approximately 20 tons (earth weight).
In this area, many concepts were submitted. However, since the problem of return to earth and landing are under detailed study in the Air Force as a portion of the Dyna-Soar development, no attempt was made to list a framework for concept formulation concerned with earth maneuvers.
* Any gravitational attraction between two bodies can be discounted with regard to bringing or holding them together. Eg: it takes only 2 (10)-5 radians/sec. rotation about a common C.G. to make two bodies of 100 tons each (whose C.G. 's are 100 feet apart)to balance the gravitational force holding them together.
As the project progressed, the concepts submitted were categorized as to earth allghtment or departure, (labeled E-1, E-2, etc.), orbital attachment (0-1. 0-2, etc.), and lunar alightment or departure (L-l, L-2, etc.). They were sub-categorized as logically as possible, as to their nature — mechanical, electro-mechanical, multi-strut, etc.
The appendix shows the concepts submitted in pictorial form. They are separated into the three major categories shown above. Class I illustrates earth alightment and departure, Class II orbital rendezvous, and Class III lunar alightment and departure.
The sixteen (16) [only 6  Orbitals] most promising concepts as selected by WADD, are listed below:
Class I – Earth Concepts
Class II – Orbital
3. O-1 Attachment by tail-hook snag.
4. O-2 Attachment by self-guiding probe through hoop.
5. O-7 Attachment by mechanical grappling hook — close range,
6. O-8 Orbital attachment by self-guiding probe,
7. O-11 Long-range attachment by probe and drogue — heat or light sensitive,
8. O-15 Attachment by mechanical parallelogram grappler. [This is the only illustrated concept shown here that made it through.]

Class III – Lunar Concepts
NOTE: The 34 concepts eliminated from further study by WADD were rejected on the basis of (a) insufficient anticipated reliability, (b) lack of
confidence In state-of-the-art advances in that area and, (c) in the case of bags, balloons, and parachutes, cognizance by other WADD Laboratories.

Contributing Agencies:

1. Brunswick Corporation, Muskegon, Michigan
2. Cleveland Pneumatic Industries, Inc., All Divisions
3. Convair Astronautics Division, General Dynamics Corporation,San Diego, California
4. E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, Wilmington, Delaware
5. General Electric Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
6. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, Akron, Ohio
7. Human Sciences Research, Incorporated, Arlington, Virginia
8. International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, South Bend, Indiana
9. Jet Propulsion Laboratories, Pasadena, California
10. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Los Angeles, California
11. Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, Sunnyvale, California
12. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D. C.
13. North American Aviation Corporation Missile Division, Downey, California
[No 14 in document]
15. North American Aviation Corporation, Los Angeles, California
16. Republic Aviation Corporation, Farmingdale L.I., New York
17. Wright Air Development Division, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio
18. Dr. Waldo Kliever, Instrumentation Physicist, Cleveland, Ohio
19. Dr. Fred S. Singer, Radiation Physicist, University of Maryland

Document sourced from here.

See other early Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.