There are currently over 500000 different pieces of space junk, floating around our orbit. Unfortunately, with every satellite launched into orbit, it will eventually become interstellar garbage, things that have a seemingly unstoppable destiny to be tracked and possibly dismantled by DARPA or ultimately disposed of by huge lasers or something of similar force. Obviously, NASA is not happy about such a waste of resources and it knows that lots of satellites’ useable lifespan may be increased with the addition of even more fuel.
So those really intelligent North American Space Administration Scientists have come up with the answer, in the form of the Remote Robotic Oxidizer Transfer Test (RROxiTT). This is a project aimed at constructing a robot platform capable of refuelling satellite tanks both here on planet earth and out in space.
To ensure the process can work, scientists are calculating a method for delivering highly combustible oxidizer (this is the chemical that is used to ignite rocket fuel) to a satellite that was not ever designed to be serviced. The small catch is, that they need to be able to do it safely and of course remotely. Oxidizers are “toxic, extremely corrosive and compressed” according to NASA, which is why this refuelling system is being developed for use both on in orbit and on land. The though behind this process is why should we put a human being into harm’s way when a robot can accomplish the mission?
The technology that is required, is being jointly developed by men and women from Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland USA, which specializes in constructing the robotic arms and control systems and also a team from The Kennedy Space Center. That team has developed a distinctive oxidizer and fuel delivery and monitoring system, which is capable of safely transferring the propellant.
Tests of RROxiTT are currently ongoing as its creators are working out the problems that the new system has, down here on the planet, before they venture into space.
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[Image via: universetoday]