Japanese space robotics startup GITAI is developing general-purpose robots for space applications. Last week, the company successfully conducted a technology demonstration of a GITAI autonomous space robot executing various tasks inside the International Space Station (ISS), a key milestone as the company prepares to provide robotics as a service in space.
In this technology demonstration, the GITAI autonomous space robot “S1” was installed inside space company Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock, the world’s first (and only) commercial airlock to be attached to the exterior of the station. The company also furnished on-orbit operations, data downlink, and the launch opportunity. Last week, Nanoracks also announced plans to launch a fully private commercial space station with Voyage Space and Lockheed Martin.
GITAI’s robotic arm was sent to the ISS aboard the SpaceX Dragon capsule at the end of August. The S1 space robotics arm successfully executed two tasks – assembling structures and panels for In-Space Assembly (ISA) and operating switches and cables for Intra-Vehicular Activity (IVA).
All operations conducted by the S1 space robotic arm were perfectly executed autonomously. Additionally, IVA activities such as switch and cable operations were also conducted by remote control or “teleoperations” from the Nanoracks mission control center in Houston.
The Japanese startup will apply the general-purpose autonomous space robotics technology, know-how, and experience acquired through this tech demo to develop extra-vehicular robotics (EVR) that can execute docking, repair, and maintenance tasks for On-Orbit Servicing (OOS) or conduct various activities for lunar exploration and lunar base construction.