Maxar Completes Critical Design Review for SPIDER Robotic Arm

Maxar SPIDER 400x275

March 10, 2021

Maxar Technologies, which develops space-based robotic systems, has announced that the Space Infrastructure Dexterous Robot (SPIDER) it is developing for NASA has completed its Critical Design Review. SPIDER is a robotic assembly and manufacturing demonstration included on the space agency’s upcoming OSAM-1 (On-Orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing-1) mission. The company said it remains on track to deliver the SPIDER hardware to NASA in the first half of 2022.

The SPIDER system will demonstrate the ability to robotically assemble and reconfigure spacecraft components while on-orbit, Maxar says. This process could allow satellites, telescopes and other systems to use larger and more powerful components that might not fit into a standard rocket when fully assembled. SPIDER will be integrated with the spacecraft bus Maxar is also building for the OSAM-1 mission, which will refuel a government-owned satellite that was not originally designed to be serviced on-orbit. Specifically, for OSAM-1, SPIDER will assemble in space seven individual antenna reflector elements, creating one large, precisely shaped antenna reflector.

Previously, Maxar delivered six robotic arms for NASA’s Mars rovers and landers, including the Sample Handling Assembly robotic arm on Perseverance, which landed on Mars last month.

“The innovative robotics technologies we are developing for SPIDER have the potential to enable an entirely new era of space infrastructure,” said Robert Curbeam, Maxar’s senior vice president of space capture. “SPIDER is one of many game-changing programs we have at Maxar. We hope to see this technology leveraged for a multitude of commercial and government space missions, including commercial satellite servicing, in-space telescope assembly and human exploration on the Moon and beyond under NASA’s Artemis program.”

SPIDER will also demonstrate in-space manufacturing using Tethers Unlimited’s MakerSat as part of the OSAM-1 mission. MakerSat will manufacture a 10-meter lightweight composite beam, verifying its capability to form large spacecraft structures for future missions. As it manufactures the beam, MakerSat will measure the beam’s straightness and mechanical properties to determine if it is built to prescribed requirements, Maxar said. 

More details on the project are available here.

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