Initial tests at MDRobotics in Canada

We travelled to MDRobotics in May 2004 to evaluate the possibility of using specialized tools and a Ground Testbed (GT) robot to perform some critical servicing tasks on the telescope.  MDR is the company that has built all five Shuttle robot arms (SRMS) and the Space Station robot arm (SSRMS).  It is also scheduled to deliver a two-armed Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator (SPDM) for use on the International Space Station.

For these tests, we shipped a section of a high fidelity mockup to Canada, and outfitted the GT
with special tools such as this nut driver.  Here, the robot is opening one of the doors to HST.

A wider view of the task.  Rich Fink is taking a close-up picture of the robot's operation.  The name of the
location that the robot is operating on is called 'Bay 1'.  It contains the HST Advanced Computer.  The
GT is unable to support its own weight on the ground, and is 'offloaded' by the cable assembly.

View from opposite angle with Bay 1 open.  The arm can be clearly seen here.  Just like the flight
SPDM, this is 7 degrees-of-freedom, although only 6 are used.  The bottom black box inside the
bay is the Advanced Computer.  The robot's task is to remove a connector cap and plug in
a new connector.

Another task that was tried at MDR was the Diode Box connectors.
Both tasks were successfully performed using these specialized tools,
and the whole expermiment was declared a success.

The flight to and from MDR goes over Niagara Falls.  On a previous trip, I snapped this
aerial picture of the Horseshoe Falls.  Snow can be seen on the ground.  Compare with this image.

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