Leading in-orbit service provider Vivisat has opened to its clients the ATK Robotic Rendezvous and Proximity (RPO) testing facility at the headquarters of ATK’s Space Systems Division in Beltsville, Maryland. Tours of the facility for ViviSat clients will take place at the Satellite 2013 Conference on March 18-21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
The RPO testing facility enables ViviSat and ATK to exhibit and verify important enabling technologies for complicated space missions. To allow simulation of satellite motion, the lab utilizes cutting-edge robotic and air-bearing testbeds. The technology is also used to facilitate hardware and software development and validation.
Moreover, ATK Space Systems Divisions’ completed docking mechanism prototype will be used to validate contact dynamics and docking performance for ViviSat’s Mission Extension Vehicle (MEV). The vehicle is specifically designed to dock with the orbiting satellite and serve as a propulsion and attitude control system. This allows mission extension for satellites that have run out of maneuvering fuel, yet still possesses a healthy payload and power system.
In a company statement, ATK Space Systems Division Vice President and General Manager Tom Wilson noted: “The ATK Robotic RPO Lab demonstrates a substantial investment in retiring risk for ViviSat and its clients. The capability currently demonstrated is the first step in our plans to perform full six degree of freedom docking validation and qualification.
Meanwhile, ViviSat CEO Bryan McGuirk said of the opening of the RPO testing facility: “We demonstrated this closed loop capability to several clients and the response has been overwhelmingly positive. They see these developments as further validation that ViviSat is making key qualification milestones and demonstrating real capabilities to provide in-orbit servicing.”
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