1987 – Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS) – Martin Marietta (American)

frs martin flight robotic servicer 1989 1 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

The flight telerobotic servicer, or FTS, was conceived as a means of incorporating U.S. robotics technology on Space Station Freedom. The U.S. Congress was interested in advancing both robotics and automation technology for the benefit of the Station, as well as directing spin-offs to the U.S. economy. In addition to ensuring technology transfer between various U.S. industries, the FTS would also serve to provide telerobotics assistance to early Station assembly tasks, service attached scientific payloads, and serve as a telerobotic assistant to EVA crewmembers.
The prime contract to manufacture the FTS was allocated to Martin Marietta Corp. with NASA's Goddard Spaceflight Center (GSFC) serving as the technical/managerial lead for integration onto the Space Station. The FTS was scheduled to fly as part of the Station's first element launch package in 1995, but the FTS program was terminated in 1991 because of SSF budgetary cutbacks. Figure 13 shows the final FTS concept.

 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

Source: Teleoperation and Robotics in Space, ed. by Carl F. Ruoff, 1994 .

free flight telerobotic servicer fts MARTIN 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

NASA decided to develop a $288-million FLIGHT TELEROBOTIC SERVICER in 1987 after Congress voiced concern about American competitiveness in the field of robotics. The FTS would also help astronauts assemble the Space Station, which was growing bigger and more complex with each redesign. Martin Marietta and Grumman received $1.5-million study contracts in November 1987. Shown here is the winning design by Martin Marietta, who received a $297-million contract in May 1989 to develop a vehicle by 1993. Grumman were losing finalists. The Bush Administration briefly tried to commercialize the FTS project in early 1989. The contractors objected since the FTS had no commercial customers.

 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

The DTF-1 manipulator as used on the FTS. It has 7 degrees-of-freedom and is approximately 5.5 feet long from the shoulder to the toolplate.

 1987   Flight Telerobotic Servicer (FTS)   Martin Marietta (American)

The FTS concept was no longer necessary after the Space Station in-orbit assembly procedures were greatly simplified in 1990-91.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1949 – Space Tug (Illustration) – Klaus Bürgle (German)

Space Tug – 1949

buergle 1949 x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

The above image from a 2010 calendar with Bürgle's illustrations. I don't know if the Space Station illustration was previously published and if so, where? The caption suggests it was unpublished at the time.

buergle 1950 x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

The Space Tugs are being used to hold and manoeuvre large panels during construction.

klaus Buergle Laeng x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

Klaus Bürgle – Image by Tommy Laeng.

The graphic artist Klaus Bürgle created in the fifties and sixties of the last century a rich imagery of the future. The exploration of space was certainly his favorite subject, but many of his images also show futuristic cities and transportation.

Bürgle was born in 1926 in Stuttgart, where he attended from 1948 to 1951, the State Academy of Fine Arts. He was educated by professors Rössing and Schneider. After a year working in a graphic studio he became independent in 1953.

His technical interests soon meant that Bürgle is specialized in technical and scientific subjects and created for a variety of popular science books and magazines cover images and interior illustrations. He also worked for scientific television series.

klaus buergle visionen x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

Bürgle's 2010 Calendar cover.

buergle 1949   Copy x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

Notes: The concept of a man inside a space capsule using manipulator arms largely came into being as a result of the logistics of getting man to the moon and beyond. The Space Station idea was conceived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky in the early 20th century and then by Hermann Oberth about two decades later. In 1929 Herman Potočnik's The Problem of Space Travel was published, the first to envision a "rotating wheel" space station to create artificial gravity. But how to build a space station? Wernher von Braun was possibly, and probably the first to fully articulate the approach. When Walt Disney wanted to make his Space films (1954), von Braun was his consultant, and von Braun's ideas on construction were visualised in the form of a "bottle suit" with arms.  Von Braun was thinking about space stations in 1952, possibly earlier. I have not read or heard of Tsiolkovsky, Oberth or Potočnik mentioning space tugs or the like.  The earliest idea I've found to date is the illustrator Klaus Bugle, who, in 1949, produced some illustrations on space station construction and showed space tugs with manipulator arms. Was he illustrating von Braun's ideas, or are these his own?

More Bürgle illustrations of interest.

hangar klaus buergle x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

Klaus Buergle hotelim mond x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

buergle gelaendefahrtaufdemmond x640 1949   Space Tug (Illustration)   Klaus Bürgle (German)

A depiction of unmanned moon crawlers originally for the Surveyor program. The crawler on the right-hand side is actually the Sperry luna crawler.

Above image from Hobby magazine no.3 1962.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1971 – Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE) Concept – NASA (American)

MULE01 x640 1971   Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE) Concept   NASA (American)

Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE)

Another Dual-Mode (Manned/Unmanned) LRV for Post-Apollo missions. This one with manipluator arms. Courtesy of one of NASAs system engineering courses.

MULE02 x640 1971   Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE) Concept   NASA (American)

MULE03 x640 1971   Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE) Concept   NASA (American)

MULE04 x640 1971   Manned/Unmanned Lunar Explorer (MULE) Concept   NASA (American)

Source: here.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar Robots here.

1970 – “STEM” Space Manipulator Arm – George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

nasa stem p141a x640 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

Prime Vehicle "STEM" System

The "STEM" system would be similar to the serpentuator, except that the translation/stabilization subsystem would be replaced by a STEM (Storable Tubular Extendible Member, Spar Aerospace Prod). The basic STEM concept is depicted in Figure 5-12.

nasa stem p140a x640 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)


The STEM is a continuous strip of resilient metal which is stored flat on a storage drum. As this drum is driven, the strip changes its shape into a tubular element which is then unfurled. Many configurations are possible to stiffen the unfurled tube into a structural member (a simplified scheme is represented in the figure). By combining several STEM actuators, one can generate a subsystem for transporting an actuator. Various STEM systems have been space qualified and have flown on many Gemini and Apollo flights. One possible configuration of this system is shown in Figure 5-13. This system would be less complex than the serpentuator since it contains fewer links to be controlled.

stem antenna spar x640 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

Patent Name: Coilable extensible apparatus

Publication number    US3144215 A
Publication date    Aug 11, 1964
Filing date    Apr 27, 1961
Priority date    Jan 19, 1961
Inventor    George J Klein
Original Assignee    Dehavilland Aircraft Canada

STEM pat 1 x640 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

STEM pat 2 x640 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

George Klein

 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

Even before the first human steps had marked the surface of the moon, NASA was beginning to envision its next great goal: the development of a reusable space craft, one that could survive blast off and re-entry and be a workhorse in the scientific exploitation of space. It was the genesis of the Space Shuttle,
Canadians including NRC and Spar were well aware of the planning at NASA, and started very early on to consider what role Canadian technology might play in the multibillion dollar Space Shuttle program, The opportunity was championed within the Government of Canada by NRC's Frank Thurston, the man who had succeeded J.H. Parkin as head of the National Aeronautical Establishment, an NRC offspring of the Division of Mechanical Engineering, Thurston encouraged the fledgling Canadian space industry to think big, and one idea captured the imagination of all concerned: ping for the remote manipulator system (RMS) work – the giant robot arm, The idea came first from the Toronto area engineering firm DSMA-Acton, which had been inspired by its work on robotics for the nuclear industry, But it took a consortium of interests and expertise to make it a reality, NRC was the lead, but NASA was convinced to entertain the idea because of Spar's success and track record in the production and delivery of STEM and because of the expertise of firms like RCA Canada Ltd" (later part of Spar).
Spar was identified as the "prime contractor" for the project with DSMA-Acton, CAE, and others contributing,
Over the next decade, the Government of Canada invested $117 million dollars to develop and produce the first RMS – which would become known as "the Canadarm", NRC was the organization assigned responsibility for overseeing the project, and the first project manager was Dr. Garry Lindberg, a scientist and engineer, who would succeed Thurston as head of N. and later the NRC Space Division.
The Canadarm was to be some 15 metres extended and capable of reaching in many directions with many different attitudes, It was to have a shoulder joint, an elbow joint and a wrist joint with each powered by small motors, This meant very large gear ratios and gears, and these needed to be carefully designed with "Zero" tolerances, This called for very innovative gearing, and no one could be absolutely sure how it would behave in space, and no one had built anything like it before. But Spar had brilliant people on staff including mechanical engineers with a flair for gearing systems, They devised an approach that seemed to work, but it was a big project, risky, costly, and high profile, Lindberg decided he needed to have the mechanical gearing system reviewed by an external expert. He knew George Klein and his reputation for gearing design.
Klein was at this time a 72-year-old retiree working part-time at the local university, He was a full seven years past his last official day of work at NRC, but did not live far away, He was still living in the old New Edinburgh neighbourhood of Ottawa a few blocks from the NRC's Sussex Drive facilities. Lindberg negotiated a contract for the elderly engineer's services, sent him to Toronto to meet with the Spar engineers, and asked him to draw upon the experience and insights that he had been developing ever since he witnessed, as a child, demonstration flights by the pilot of the Silver Dart in the first decade of the century.
Like most active and bright retirees, George Klein welcomed the invitation to work again, He was excited by the technical challenge that he was being asked to consider, but he especially appreciated the chance to drive to Toronto, He loved that long, peaceful drive as a guilt — free opportunity to daydream and ride in his Ford.
He was being sent in to second guess the experienced Spar engineering team as NRC's "Chief Consultant on Gear Design" for what would be the Canadarm,
George had grown to love mechanical gearing systems as a game that was relaxing and motivating at the same time, Even in retirement, he continued to find fun in designing original toys for amusement using intricate gears and working late nights developing new gearing systems "just for fun".
He attacked the Spar assignment with the enthusiasm of someone who had been given a second chance and someone whose child-like sense of wonder had been rekindled unexpectedly. It was, therefore, not for lack of trying that he eventually concluded that there were no dramatic improvements that he could suggest to NRC and Spar.

 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

 1970   STEM Space Manipulator Arm   George Klein, Spar Aerospace (Canadian)

Source: George J. Klein: The Great Inventor, by Richard I. Bourgeois-Doyle – 2004

Note: Whilst I have attributed the "SPAR" space manipulator system to George Klein, it may not have been Klein that actually proposed the system itself.

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.

1972 – Extendable Stiff Arm Manipulator (ESAM) – Marshall Space Flight Center (American)

ESAM manipulator x640 1972   Extendable Stiff Arm Manipulator (ESAM)   Marshall Space Flight Center (American)

ESAM with controllers x640 1972   Extendable Stiff Arm Manipulator (ESAM)   Marshall Space Flight Center (American)

Teleoperator technology is presently being studied within NASA for on-orbit applications, including assembling of large structures, servicing and retrieval of satellites. The orbital teleoperator program is being conducted by MSFC and is designed to produce a suitable system for a series of Earth Orbital Teleoperator.
The orbital teleoperator system will include small dextrous servicing manipulators to be used in satellite servicing. The manipulator will perform tasks such as the removal and replacement of modules. Manipulator control and visual feedback will be carried out by remote data link with an operator located in the orbiter aft cabin or on the ground. The elements of a manipulator system therefore include the
. manipulator arm and end effector
. control system
. visual system
. operator
. signal transmission

The development of remote manipulator systems applicable to space missions is to be preceded by a series of comprehensive investigations into existing remote-manipulator technology, operator control, and management of remote manipulator systems and RMS requirements and applications in space missions.  
NASA's RMS/EVA (Remote Manipulator Arm/ExtraVehicular Activity) committee has assigned to Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) the responsibility for earth orbital teleoperator technology development and integration, especially as it applies to free flying systems (FFTS) and manipulator systems mounted internally to spacecraft.
As part of its overall effort, MSFC developed the Teleoperator Technology Development Plan and in the implementation of this plan, established the Manipulator System Evaluation Program. MSFC's Electronics and Control Laboratory houses the Manipulator System Evaluation Laboratory (MSEL) which has been the focal point for gathering experimental derived data on existing manipulator Systems. The MSEL provides the necessary controlled environment for the study of each of the components of the manipulator system and the higher order interactions of the manipulator system components. As is the case in each of the major teleoperator subsystems. the evaluations of manipulator systems represent only part of a more extensive effort to adequately define the effects of system parameters, mission requirements, task conditions, human operator performance, and state-of-the-art factors which may impact remotely manned missions.

MSFC Extendable Stiff Arm Manipulator (ESAM) with Analog/Joystick controller

The ESAM is a non-anthropomorphic, five-degree-of-freedom manipulator representing the state-of-the-art achievement for general purpose remote manipulator units. The ESAM was designed and developed at the Marshall Space Flight Canter and evaluated at the Manipulator Laboratories of MSFC.
The ESAM, as depicted in Figure 3.1, is basically a tubular, fixed member having a square cross section which provides support and storage for an extendable stiff member. The extendable member has a wrist assembly which provides roil and pitch positioning to the end effector. The Manipulator Arm azimuth and elevation position motors and the extend/retract motor are mounted to the fixed member. Each ESAM joint is driven by a 28 VDC reversible motor through a planetary gear system to harmonic drive transmission.

 1972   Extendable Stiff Arm Manipulator (ESAM)   Marshall Space Flight Center (American)
ESAM operation entails azimuth/elevation at the shoulder joint. The entire outer and inner member and wrist assembly may be moved through an azimuth angle via 28 volt DC motor acting through a planetary gear system.
The elevation motor and drive assembly is inside the azimuth assembly.
The two joints and associated driving assemblies can move the fixed member in 660 degree envelopes in azimuth and 180 degrees in elevation.
The extendable member is a square cross sectional tube which telescopes within the fixed member. The extension is implemented by a 28 volt DC drive system. The extension range is 68 cm. (26.75 in.). The wrist pitch assembly at the end of the extendable member uses a 28 volt DC motor to drive the wrist 70 degrees in pitch. The final arm degree of freedom is wrist roll which has a range of 540 degrees and is driven by a 28 volt DC motor.

Source: excerpt from Earth Orbital Teleoperator Manipulator System Evaluation Program, 1975 by Essex Corp for NSAS contract # 30545

See other early Space Teleoperators here.

See other early Lunar and Space Robots here.