In-Orbit Demonstration of ISMA Robotic Capabilities to Pave the Way for a New Generation of Space Systems

Sebastian Bartsch, Stephane Estable, Torsten Vogel, Marc Manz, Gwenaelle Aridon, Romain Caujolle, Francisco Javier Colmenero, Mercedes Alonso, Manuel Esquer, Daniel Silveira, Carolina Serra, Marko Jankovic, Wiebke Brinkmann, Isabel Soto, Gonzalo Guerra, Jeremi Gancet, Pierre Letier, Andres M. Barrio, Mark Shilton, Elie Allouis, Björn Ordoubadian, Eric Bertels, Apostolos Chamos

In: In Proc. of. 73rd International Astronautical Congress 2022. International Astronautical Congress (IAC-2022) September 18-22 Paris France n.n. 9/2022.


When one thinks about how satellites and spacecraft are built today, the picture which immediately springs tomind is the large clean room, the heavy personnel needs, and the large launcher required to transport a volume-constrained payload to space. The PERIOD project seeks to disrupt the status quo by showing there is an alternative to the traditional approach of manufacturing, assembling and validating space hardware on-ground with direct in-orbit manufacturing and assembly using robotics, autonomy and modularity. The advantages are multiple. No more constraints on the overall volume and design of large-scale satellite antennas. Ample opportunities to construct larger space infrastructures such as modular space stations and lunar surface infrastructure. On top of this, the ISMA (In-Space Manufacturing and Assembly) technologies would allow for the upgrade and repair of existing spacecraft and satellites, thereby fostering the sustainable usage of space through plug and play modularity. The ISMA industry can bring revolution to space market achieving a sustainable space ecosystem and offering new services. The PERIOD consortium is confident that a decade from now, considering a stepwise evolution, many different capabilities will be required. Large-antenna commercial satellites autonomously assembled in space will provide citizens with a wide range of services, and scientific satellites will allow us to see further into deep space than ever before. Payloads will be autonomously exchanged on standard reconfigurable satellites. Most satellites will be repaired, serviced or de-orbited in space, meaning that we will be able to better face the space debris issue. Advanced space robotics will be used for local and autonomously manufacturing and assembly on the space stations in LEO (Low Earth Orbit), lunar and mars orbits, and indeed on their surfaces. Even more remarkably, the same robotic technologies and autonomous industrial processes will be used for producing resources in space, even producing human organs for citizens on Earth. This paper describes the results of the PERIOD project performing a phase A/B1 mission study and technology maturation activities aiming to prepare the paradigm shift for changing the way space systems are designed, built and operated, moving from mission-specific solutions to modular spacecraft optimised for the space environment.


IAC-22D16x71036-manuscript-PERIOD_preprint.pdf (pdf, 1 MB )

Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Künstliche Intelligenz
German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence