German Aerospace Center (DLR), institute of space operations & astronaut training and robotics & mechatronics in Oberpfaffenhofen
European Proximity Operations Simulator:

EPOS is a facility for simulation of satellite maneuvers in space, namely rendezvous and docking. The system comprises two industrial 6DOF robots, one being mounted on a rail system which allows an approach range of 25 meters. The real-time control system was specifically designed for this application and supports synchronous and asynchronous position modes via MATLAB/Simulink.

PDF: EPOS - A Robotics-Based Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulator for Simulating Satellite RvD Operations
Video: EPOS - Abschleppdienst im All

RUAG Space

RUAG Space in Emmen (CH)
Automated Non-Destructive Ultrasonic Inspection of payload fairings for Ariane 5 und Vega orbital rockets using robotic manipulators:

Our largest installation so far is an inspection system for 5.4 m diameter half-shells. It uses air-coupled ultrasound technique and covers a working area of 20 x 6 x 3 m³. An unequal pair of robots is moving on 24 m rails along the specimen. On its inside we use a Staubli RX170BL robot, where we have exchanged the standard aluminum underarm by a longer CFRP component to extend the reach to 2500 mm. The outside robot with a reach of 5150 mm is a custom design using a highly optimized CFRP upper- und underarm and a 3-axis wrist featuring densely integrated light-weight servo systems as well as laser sintered structural components. Both robots achieve an absolute accuracy of better than 400 microns (RMS) over the whole working range. This system creates C-scan images fully automatically at scan speeds of up to 1 m/s, reducing scan times to less than 20 minutes per square meter. Distance sensors next to the ultrasonic probe alter the trajectories in real time to closely follow the surface of the specimen. A multi-level collision avoidance concept protects the expensive customer part from any damages.

PDF: Presentation of Ultrasonic Inspection System
Video: RUAG Space Composite Center Emmen (our facility starts at 1:59 min)

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RUAG Space

Ruag Space in Zuerich (CH)
Non Destructive Inspection:

This automated 10-axis scanner supports the NDI specialists by performing non-destructive inspection of launcher payload-fairings and interstage-adapters using air-coupled ultrasonic through-transmission technology. The result is a C-Scan image of the part, allowing convenient and reliable detection of defects within the part. This machine was developed together with RUAG Space, Eugen Ostertag, Ing.-Buero Dr. Hillger and Robo-Technology.

Key Features:  

  • Air coupled ultrasonic through transmission, no coupling water needed
  • Fully automated scanning of curved and complex shaped spacecraft parts
  • Large scan volume of nearly 60 m³
  • Laser guided trajectory adaption for highest positioning accuracy in respect to the actual part
  • Multiple collision detection and avoidance systems

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