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Spearheading a step change in space

Updated: Mar 15

In a continuation of our extra-terrestrial investigations, last month we returned to space – or an environment approximating it – at the Catapult test facility for In-Orbit Service and Manufacturing.

This latest exploration project came as part of our ongoing incubation period with the European Space Agency’s Business Incubation Centre (ESA BIC UK), which provides start-ups with technical expertise and facilities, business support, networking and funding needed to overcome innovation challenges and accelerate business growth.

Extend Robotics, Catapult, Esa, Business incubation centre and UK space agency logo

As an industry operating in an extreme, inhospitable, and dangerous environment, space is a prime example of an area primed to benefit from technological advances like our VR robotics solutions.

The aim of this project was to advance the case for our AMAS Pro solution to dramatically reduce costs and improve safety of maintaining satellites.

“The fundamental value of our technology… is really allowing people to access those dangerous or really hard to access workspace while keeping them safe and comfortable.”

The specific task was to demonstrate our technology’s capability to remove and replace satellite modules in a 27U CubeSat – a small payload container which has itself proven extremely successful in easing access to space.

A key aspect of this experiment was a comparative test between different 3D cameras: Zed camera, Photo Neo camera and Kinect camera.

What makes this particularly exciting is how upgrading our camera technology from the previous consumer level is driving us to the space industry’s required levels of precision.

Using laser scanners, the camera sensor can accurately measure depth regardless of environmental light levels.

“This really gives us a step change… it’s really given us the opportu qnity to measure depths even in pitch black.”

Maximising on the unique conditions of the Catapult facility, we were also able to test performance in extreme light conditions.

A large 5,000 watt light simulated the brightness of the sun as it would be experienced in space, enabling us to really put the cameras through their paces.

“I think today is quite fruitful; we managed to demonstrate the feasibility of conducting space operations for satellite servicing.”


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