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The companies received the contract to leverage ModuLink, a commercially available product that allows users to turn their spacecraft into customized robotic spacecrafts. The system involves two robotic arms, sensors and modular interfaces.
Motiv Space Systems and Blue Origin created the system to make robotic space missions available to a broader user base. The contract aims at using the system to enable a new age of space utilization, where spacecrafts can be repaired, augmented or modified while deployed.
“Modular control software simplifies and speeds up development and verification of flight system robotics solutions. We’re pleased to be collaborating with Motiv to drive this field forward,” Brent Sherwood, senior vice president of Blue Origin’s Advanced Development Programs, said.
Motiv’s xLink robotic manipulation system is the basis of ModuLink. xLink is a fusion of Motiv’s ground and space flight robotics system. It’s scheduled to be on NASA’s OSAM-2 mission expected to launch in 2025. This mission is a follow-up to the OSAM-1 mission.
ModuLink’s software architecture is being developed by Blue Origin and NASA, a version of the Robot Operating Software (ROS) called Space ROS. This version of ROS is meant to meet verification and validation requirements that aerospace software must meet before being used in a mission.
“ModuLink enables an exciting new modular approach to spacecraft, their capabilities, and on-orbit repair through advanced robotics,” Chris Thayer, CEO of Motiv, said. “The ModuLink system is designed to be a ‘bolt-on’ robotics enhancement for spacecraft which, with the use of Space ROS, will lead a new era of robotics in space.”
The project is planned as a three-year development cycle concluding in a flight demonstration.
Motiv Space Systems was founded in 2014 with the goal to bring innovative robotics and motion control to the space market. It previously developed NASA’s Perseverance Rover’s primary robotic arm. The 7-foot long arm carries some of the rover’s most important science instruments.