NASA to establish Space Robotics Institute at University of Maryland

COLLEGE PARK, Md., 21 July 2005. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is establishing a center of excellence for space robotics research at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

Jul 21st, 2005

By John Keller

COLLEGE PARK, Md., 21 July 2005. The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is establishing a center of excellence for space robotics research at the University of Maryland in College Park, Md.

Maryland's Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) is uniquely qualified for space robotics research because of its specialized expertise from several related research projects, including the Ranger Telerobotic Shuttle Experiment, NASA officials say.

University of Maryland will establish the Space Robotics Institute under terms of a sole-source cooperative research agreement with the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, also located in College Park, Md. The agreement was announced July 20.

The institute will concentrate on dexterous robotic manipulation for space applications.

Scientists involved with the Maryland-based Space Robotics Institute will apply the university's experience in dexterous space robotics, satellite assembly and servicing, machine vision, microelectronics and optoelectronics fabrication, and space flight hardware development to develop gap-filling technologies for dexterous space robotics through breadboard validation.

Institute experts not only will perform environmental testing for thermal, vacuum, and accelerated life tests in university laboratories, but they also will integrate experimental technologies into system-level dexterous robot test beds.

The cooperative agreement between NASA and the university also will help form university and industry partnerships to provide best-in-class technologies and capabilities, NASA officials say.

No timetables for establishing the robotics institute, or financial details of the agreement were immediately available.

The University of Maryland SSL has unique facilities for developing and testing space-qualified robotic technologies, NASA officials point out.

Notable among these facilities is the Neutral Buoyancy Research Facility, which allows the long-term simulation of the microgravity environment of orbital flight, and other specialized tools for analyzing robot architectures.

For more information on the new Space Robotics Institute contact NASA's
Carlos McKenzie by phone at 301-286-0599, by fax at 301-286-1779, or by e-mail at Carlos.R.McKenzie@nasa.gov. Also contact NASA's Sandra Marshall by phone at 301-286-8085, by fax at 301-286-1670, or by e-mail at Sandra.L.Marshall@nasa.gov.

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