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GITAI dual-armed robot arrives at the ISS, to conduct multiple operations

Torrance-based GITAI USA Inc. has launched its latest robotic system called S2 aboard a SpaceX rocket destined for the International Space Station (ISS). S2 features two dexterous arms and will demonstrate various in-space servicing, assembly, and manufacturing capabilities during its stay on the orbiting laboratory.

Once it arrives at the ISS, the crew will mount the 5-foot long dual-armed S2 onto the Bishop airlock module. The robot will then undergo an array of tests and tasks aimed at showcasing its reliability and precision for future orbital service missions.

“Our robotics systems are capable of conducting various operations, such as maintenance, inspection, and life extension operations for the target satellite,” said GITAI founder and CEO Sho Nakanose.

The company designed and built all components of S2 completely in-house in order to retain control over commercializing the technology later. There are currently no established supply chains in the nascent space robotics industry.

This will be GITAI’s first on-orbit test of a dual-armed robotic platform, building on an earlier demo in 2021 using their single-armed S1 robot. The addition of a second arm promises to expand the system’s capability to cooperatively manipulate objects and carry out more complex jobs.

During its ISS residency, S2 will install task panels meant to simulate satellite component replacement procedures. It will also demonstrate tool changing capabilities by alternately utilizing a robotic hand and powered screwdriver attachment.

Other key tasks include robotically driving and removing tiny bolts, as well as manipulating flexible thermal blanket materials. The system’s precision and dexterity will additionally be put to the test by mating and demating a cable connector on one of the ISS’s electrical ports.

Before launch, GITAI’s S2 platform had to complete over 10 months of NASA safety reviews and achieve a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 6. This exhaustive vetting process ensures all systems headed to the ISS do not pose undue risks to on-board astronauts.

GITAI now aims to reach TRL 7 by conclusively proving S2’s abilities on-orbit. This would move the robot closer towards the ultimate TRL 9 designation for spaceflight-proven systems. Beyond its demonstrations on the ISS, GITAI has contracted projects in development including orbital satellite servicing missions.

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