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SBIR/STTR

The Automated X-Link for Orbital Networking (AXON) Connector, Phase I

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

NASA has identified the need for a joining technologies to support the ability to connect spacecraft components autonomously in-space. The joining technology should be modular, reversible, have an open-architecture, and allow "plug-and-play" functionality for maximum flexibility and utilize simple approaches amenable to robotic assembly and disassembly. TUI has been working on structural truss joining (Class 1 joints) and robotic connection approaches through separate efforts and has several ongoing and future efforts that will require in-space joining of modular systems (Class 2 joints). TUI proposes to develop and demonstrate an open-architecture Class 2 joining solution called the Automated X-Linked for Orbital Networking (AXON) connector. The AXON connector will be a reversible module-to-module connector that minimizes mass and complexity while maximizing assembled stiffness, strength, power transfer, and data communications. The development of the AXON connector will leverage TUI's existing programs and place emphasize automated robotic mating and de-mating. In the Phase I effort, we will identify a complete set of requirements, develop a concept design, fabricate the concept using TUI's 3D printing and rapid prototyping capabilities, and test the AXON connector using TUI's Baxter robot. In the Phase II effort, TUI will mature the Phase I design and perform reliability testing. More »

Anticipated Benefits

Primary U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

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Project Duration

Technology Maturity (TRL)

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