In-Space Services aim to introduce sustainable futuristic technology to support the current and growing orbital ecosystem. As the scale of space missions grows, there is a need for more extensive infrastructures in orbit. In-Space Assembly missions would hold one of the key responsibilities in meeting the increasing demand. In the forthcoming decades, newer infrastructures in the Earth’s orbits, which are much more advanced than the International Space Station are needed for in-situ manufacturing, servicing, and astronomical and observational stations. The prospect of in-orbit commissioning a Large Aperture Space Telescope (LAST) has fuelled scientific and commercial interests in deep-space astronomy and Earth Observation. However, the in-situ assembly of such large-scale, high-value assets in extreme environments, like space, is highly challenging and requires advanced robotic solutions. This paper introduces an innovative dexterous walking robotic system for in-orbit assembly missions and considers the Large Aperture Space Telescope system with an aperture of 25 m as the use case. The top-level assembly requirements are identified with a deep insight into the critical functionalities and challenges to overcome while assembling the modular LAST. The design and sizing of an End-over-end Walking Robot (E-Walker) are discussed based on the design of the LAST and the specifications of the spacecraft platform. The E-Walker’s detailed design engineering includes the structural finite element analysis results for space and earth-analogue design and the corresponding actuator selection methods. Results of the modal analysis demonstrate the deflections in the E-Walker links and end-effector in the open-loop due to the extremities present in the space environment. The design and structural analysis of E-Walker’s scaled-down prototype is also presented to showcase its feasibility in supporting both in-orbit and terrestrial activities requiring robotic capabilities over an enhanced workspace. Further, the mission concept of operations is presented based on two E-Walkers that carry out the assembly of the mirror modules. The mission discussed was shortlisted after conducting an extensive trade-off study in the literature. Simulated results prove the dual E-Walker robotic system’s efficacy for accomplishing complex in-situ assembly operations through task-sharing.
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