Skip Navigation
Center Innovation Fund: MSFC CIF

Flexible Electrostatic Tools for Capture & Handling, Year 1 (FETCH)

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

Flexible Electrostatic Technology can be Utilized for Capturing and Handling
This proposed effort will test the proximity sensing and gripping force of the first generation FETCH gripper pads in vacuum chamber with assorted sample materials, shapes, support structures, and grip angles. Additional testing will demonstrate capture/soft docking and handling of different sizes, masses, and configurations including nano-sat mock-ups on MSFC's Flat Floor. The FETCH grippers utilize phased high voltages on the gripper electrodes to induce attractive electro-static charges in the surface of the object being handled whether it is metal, composite, MLI, glass, or even rock. Current docking and orbital debris capture requires pincher type grippers or probe/spears to grab protrusions or insert into cavities or penetrate objects. This requires some cooperative target design features and precision alignment to engage. Harpoons create additional debris, explosive venting, and many other hazardous conditions. Most old satellites, derelict upper stages and asteroids don't have handles in the proper places for orbital relocation. Rigid electro-static grippers have been used for years in semi-conductor manufacturing and other vacuum chamber processing with capacitive proximity sensing, very low impact capture & release, no residual contamination, and without motors. A flexible electro-static or electro-adhesion gripper is all electric and can conform and capture various shapes, sizes, and materials without target preparations, generates pull-in force across the gap to grip and self-align (similar to magnetics), and releases cleanly without active motors in space. Flexible electro-static Gripper pads with the correct configuration of attach points, compliance mechanisms, and electrodes can successful conform to various object shapes. Additional pad shapes, electrode patterns and openings (for sensors or permanent adhesive injection) can be designed that will sense and grip with standard programmable electro-static power supplies. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Project Library

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

Technology Transitions

Light bulb

Suggest an Edit

Recommend changes and additions to this project record.