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"Salvage service" for space scrap

An increasing amount of space junk, in other words no longer required or defect parts from space missions orbiting the earth, is also threatening current missions. According to ESA there are currently over 600,000 objects with a diameter bigger than 1 cm in orbit around the earth. There have already been the first collisions, e.g. in 2009 a satellite that was still working was destroyed by parts of an old satellite flying about.
To solve this problem, the German space project EPOS ("European Proximity Operations Simulator") was brought to life. EPOS is a facility to simulate rescue and disposal maneuvers in the earth's orbit. Using rendezvous and docking maneuvers in space, unmanned satellites will be able to act as service or rescue satellites to bring space scrap parts into a so-called graveyard orbit or carry out repairs. The facility is set up and operated at DLR (German Aerospace Center) in Oberpfaffenhofen (Institute for Space Operations & Astronaut Training and Robotics and Mechatronics). This is where the so-called dry runs are carried out and the system is further developed. Robo-Technology GmbH and KUKA Roboter GmbH are the industrial partners. The facility mainly consists of two 6-arm robots on a joint linear axis with a travel range of 25 m. In each robot in the simulation facility, one igus® plastic energy chain of the series triflex® R is used with a triflex® RS universal module as well as a chain of the 410 series on the linear axis. The choice of energy supply system along the robot arm was made in collaboration between Robo-Technology and igus®.

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