Posts Tagged ‘Space Manipulators’

1989 – MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle) – NASA (American)

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American manned lunar rover. Study 1989. MOSAP (MObile Surface APplication traverse vehicle) was the pressurized lunar rover that was the key to NASA’s 90-Day-Study moon base concept of 1989. It would greatly extend the range of manned lunar expeditions. MOSAP had a maximum range of 3000 km with a nominal speed of 10 kph.

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MOSAP interior. This vehicle would expand research operations to a range of hundreds of kilometers from the outpost. MOSAP would provide a shirtsleeve environment for missions lasting up to two weeks. The robotic manipulators can be used for collecting soil samples.

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An unpressurized lunar hangar will be used for assembling and maintaining equipment and vehicles such as MOSAP.

The complete system consisted of four modules to allow flexibility in mission planning — a Primary Control Research Vehicle (PCRV), a habitation unit, an auxiliary power cart, and an experiment and sample trailer. Each unit could be individually operated or connected in a train configuration. This vehicle would expand research operations to a range of hundreds of kilometers from the outpost.  The robotic manipulators could be used for collecting soil samples.

Source: here.


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


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1940 onwards – Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Rovers with Manipulators Concepts

Most of the unmanned Lunar and Martian rover concepts were designed to use manipulator arms for sampling rocks and surface material.

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John Schoenherr’s (1935-2010) fabulous Moon Crawler painting pictured above, which he painted in 1961 for the cover of Analog magazine that year. Source: Project SWORD

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Project S.W.O.R.D. (SPACE WORLD ORGANISATION FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT) Moon Crawler 1967.

S.W.O.R.D. images sourced from projectsword.

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Moon tractor from the children’s book “A Rocket Trip to the Moon”, Golden Press 1970. Sourced from dreamsofspace.

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Artwork by Ed Valigursky, from the French edition LIFE’s MAN AND SPACE book. Edition date unknown, original English edition 1964.

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A depiction of unmanned moon crawlers originally for the Surveyor program. The crawler on the right-hand side is actually the Sperry luna crawler. Above image from Hobby magazine no.3 1962.

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More Lunar explorer toys.

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“The Road to the Moon is Ready” by Nikolay Kolchitsky. Illustration for the Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine, 1956. Source: here.

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Illustration for the Tekhnika Molodezhi magazine.

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Illustration from Première Croisière Sur La Lune by Fletcher Pratt, 1952.

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From 1971 Japan Space Encyclopedia.

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NASA Lunar Survey Vehicle conceptual illustration, 1988.

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Solar-powered rover with mechanical arms.

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Above: Prediction of life on the moon c1965. Illustration from the book Station “Moon” (Stantsiia “Luna”) (1965) .

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Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

For large images of the above two Russian illustrations, see here.


Off World Rover illustrations

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Illustration by Frank R. Paul, Fantastic Adventure, 1940.

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Martian Rover samplers.

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See othe Lunar Walkers here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


1965 onwards – Miscellaneous Lunar and Off World Walker Concepts

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4-Legged robot space explorer.

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Robot Rescuing an Astronaut on the Lunar Surface. Robot reminiscent of Odex-1.

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Legged robot turning a valve.

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Model Lunar walker from the French children's book "Permieres Vacances Sur La Lune" [“First Vacation on the Moon”], Marc Heimer – 1967.

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Above: Prediction of life on the moon c1965. Illustration from the book Station "Moon" (Stantsiia "Luna") (1965) .

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Above: Later prediction of life on the moon c1974

For large images of the above two Russian illustrations, see here.


Off World Walker illustrations

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A. Leonov, A. Sokolov  c1965
"Automatic rover on Titan , Saturn's moon ". A novel rolling-wheel propulsion whereby the trailing wheel segment pushes down rolling the rover forwards, then retracts and the next segment repeats the action. There are stabilizing skis on the vehicle.

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A giant walking capsule or  rover on Pluto. Illustration by A. Leonov and A. Sokolov – "Pluto". PREPARATION PRECAUTIONS from  a postcard "Wait for us , the stars" , 1967 (Soviet).

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Off-world walker. From Soviet magazine dated 1969. Most likely illustrated by A. Leonov and A. Sokolov


Marsohod concept – 1976

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Above illustration painted by A. Sokolov.

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Source: here.


See othe Lunar Walkers here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


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1957 onwards – Miscellaneous Space Tugs with Manipulator Arms (Illustrations)

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1974 Japanese Sci-Fi image of a Space Tug by Shigeru Komatsuzaki. Whilst it looks aggressive and attacking, it appears to be a rescue vehicle.

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Space Tugs by Sokolov and Leonov c1965.

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A depiction of an Unmanned Orbital Free-Flyer, similar to the 1982-4 Telepresence Servicer Unit (TSU) concept. Image source: projectrho.com

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Detail: Image source: projectrho.com

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Artwork by Don Davis for “Icarus Descending” (1973). In the story the tug is delivering a large nuclear device (helpfully labled “DANGER”) in order to divert the asteroid Icarus from a collision with Terra.

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Space pod from the anime Macross. Image source: projectrho.com

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United Galaxy Sanitation Patrol cruiser from the TV series Quark, 1977.

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Image by Robert McCall.

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Space 5, Sci-fi anthology by Richard Davis, 1979.

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Image similar to 1958 Lockheed Astrotug.

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Image from some NASA document.

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The manipulator arms are just grapplers in this concept. Image from Getty Images.

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A Lunar lander, probably in a lunar orbit, using an extendible arm to transfer a disable astronaut in space. Concept by Grumman.

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Manned Space pods similar to the 1978 Manned Remote Work Station (MRWS) by Grumman.

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One-man rocket propulsion device with manipulator arms to hold cargo. From the youth nonfiction 1961 book, “What Does An Astronaut Do?” by Robert Wells.

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Pilgrim-1 is a model kit. Pictured is the One-Man EVA craft (OMEVAC), also called Astrotug or “Little Toot”. Image source: via projectrho.com

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Illustration from the children’s book “Space Flight The Coming Exploration of the Universe”, published by Golden Press, New York, 1959.

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1957 Lion Annual cover. Now that’s a Space Robot.


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.


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1983 – Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) – University of Maryland (American)

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1983 M.I.T. Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT)

The SSL was founded in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

The success of EASE led to questions about how well robots could construct structures in space. The SSL’s first neutral buoyancy robot, the Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT), was built in 1983 specifically to construct the EASE structure. Over BAT’s lifetime, SSL personnel accumulated a large database comparing human and robot performance in space. BAT also demonstrated the ability of robots to assist astronauts during EVA excursions and to service and repair satellites.

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The Beam Assembly Teleoperator (BAT) was designed to assemble the same structure used by the Space Systems Laboratory for the Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA (EASE) program. EASE involved two pressure-suited subjects repeatedly assembling a six-element tetrahedral truss, and included both neutral buoyancy simulation and a shuttle flight experiment flown on STS 61-B in late 1985. By choosing as a design case to assemble this same structure, direct comparisons could be made between EVA and the telerobotic assembly, as well as correlation to the flight experiment. This structure was designed to be challenging for EVA assembly; no major modifications in the structure were allowed for simplifying the task for robotic assembly. Thus, BAT was designed from the outset to be as capable as EVA for this one specific assembly task, and generically capable of a variety of other EVA tasks as well.

The basic design of BAT was based on a self-contained mobility base, with vision and manipulation systems attached. The mobility base contained the control electronics, on-board power supplies, and the other support systems, as well as eight electrically-powered ducted propellers for underwater motion. Careful attention has to be paid to simulation fidelity in the neutral buoyancy environment, and floatation panels and trim weights were attached to the base unit to adjust the centers of buoyancy and gravity to be coincident, such that the vehicle has no preferred orientation. In the current configuration, BAT is equipped with two pairs of stereo monochrome video cameras, one five degree of freedom dexterous general purpose manipulator, a non-articulated grappling arm for grasping the structure under assembly, and a specialized manipulator for performing the coarse alignment task for the long struts of the truss assembly. This combination of a flexible, generalized manipulator and “pick and place” specialized manipulator for selected tasks proved to be a useful approach to the design of a structural assembly telerobot.

Sourced from here and here.

“The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is dedicated to making human beings more productive while working in space. We believe that both humans and robots, working together, are necessary to accomplish this goal. We are currently developing robotic systems capable of assisting astronauts in EVA (spacewalk) tasks, thus making EVA excursions shorter and safer, and in some cases allowing astronauts to perform tasks that would otherwise be impossible. We also study the ways the human body works in space, quantify human abilities in orbit, and design tools and systems to help astronauts work in space.

The SSL was established in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by MIT faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques eventually led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61B in late 1985. EASE was designed to evaluate the ability of astronauts to build structures in space.

Other early SSL work with Richard Stallman and Marvin Minsky resulted in the Aramis study, an early influential paper on the use of automation in space exploration. In addition, the SSL developed the first neutral buoyancy version of a Manned Manuevering Unit, which allows astronauts to fly untethered around the Space Shuttle. NASA now uses SAFER, a similar device, to ensure the safety of astronauts during EVA excursions.

The Space Systems Lab was founded at MIT in 1976, by faculty members Renee Miller and J.W. Mar. Its early studies in space construction techniques led to the EASE (Experimental Assembly of Structures in EVA) flight experiment which flew on Space Shuttle mission STS-61-B in 1985.
In 1990, lab director Dr. Dave Akin moved the lab to the University of Maryland. The Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, or NBRF, was completed in 1992. Current projects include the MX suits, simplified spacesuits for use in EVA research; Exo-SPHERES, a prototype satellite for inspection missions, and DYMAFLEX, a light-weight high performance manipulator developed for controls testing in a highly coupled dynamic environment.
The Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is part of the Aerospace Engineering Department and A. James Clark School of Engineering at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland. A leader in the area of astronautics, the Space Systems Laboratory is centered around the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, a 50-foot diameter, 25-foot deep water tank that is used to simulate the microgravity environment of space. The only such facility housed at a university, Maryland’s neutral buoyancy tank is used for undergraduate and graduate research at the Space Systems Lab. Research in Space Systems emphasizes space robotics, human factors, applications of artificial intelligence and the underlying fundamentals of space simulation. There are currently many systems being tested, including Ranger, a four-armed satellite repair robot, and EUCLID, a 6 degree of freedom free-flying underwater camera platform.”


See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.