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Maxar Lands Defense Contract to Design Robotic Arm for In-Space Applications

Contract award

Maxar Lands Defense Contract to Design Robotic Arm for In-Space Applications

The Defense Innovation Unit has awarded Maxar Technologies a contract to design two robotic arms for in-space assembly and servicing applications.

Under the terms of the $9.3 million deal, Maxar will deliver flight-ready units that are each 2 meters in length. Work will be done over three years, Maxar said Monday.

Maxar said that the arms will be underactuated, a design feature that the company said will reduce the system’s weight and cost.

Robert Curbeam, senior vice president of space capture at Maxar, said he expects robotics to play an important role in the future of the space industry.

“Maxar looks forward to leveraging our commercial space manufacturing expertise to support these initiatives,” Curbeam said.

Maxar added that it will develop the arm in collaboration with SRI International and Altius Space Machines, a space robotics and technology startup owned by Voyager Space.

The company said that the prototype will be created by its team in Pasadena, California, which has supplied six robotic arms for NASA’s Mars rovers and landers.

One example of the team’s work is the Perseverance rover’s Sample Handling Assembly robotic arm. The tool is part of a sampling caching system designed to manipulate, assess, encapsulate, store and release soil and rock samples, Maxar said in a blog.

Maxar also highlighted its ongoing design of the Spider robotic arm for NASA’s On-orbit Servicing, Assembly and Manufacturing 1 mission as well as the Lunar Underactuated Robotic Arm prototype for the agency’s Artemis program.

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Category: Space

Tags: Altius Space Machines contract Department of Defense DIU Maxar Technologies robotic arm space SRI International