Altius Signs Space Act Agreement with NASA Langley Research Center

Altius Space Machines Signs Space Act Agreement with
NASA Langley Research Center
Louisville, CO, September 4, 2012

Altius Space Machines of Louisville, Colorado is pleased to announce that we have signed a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA Langley Research Center of Hampton, Virginia, to develop concepts for a new series of compactly-stowable long-reach spacecraft robotic manipulators.

This SAA reflects a very high degree of cooperation and synergy between commercial and government space organizations and should be mutually beneficial to both Altius and NASA. Altius will combine NASA’s expertise in manipulator systems with its mission concepts and payload capture technology to jointly create a new and novel Compactly Stowable Manipulator (CSM). As the name suggests, the CSM will have a very small packaging volume, yet be capable of highly-dexterous, long-reach operations. When combined with a non-cooperative payload capture technology, the CSM would also enable satellite servicing, small-package delivery/return, and rendezvous/capture of nanosat-scale free flyers or sample return canisters.

Commercial crew and cargo transportation vehicles and NASA exploration vehicles, such as the Orion spacecraft could accrue significant benefits if a robotic arm with performance capabilities similar to the Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), but having much higher packaging efficiency, could be developed to fit on such vehicles. Such an extendable/retractable RMS-class manipulator would enable inspection and repair of the vehicle windward and backshell TPS on missions to destinations other than the ISS and would additionally assist in EVA activities.

The NASA Space Technology Game Changing Development Program (in the Office of Chief Technologist) as well as NASA Langley’s Space Technology and Exploration Directorate will gain knowledge from the commercial requirements and systems engineering input provided by Altius, which will link very long-reach tendon-actuated manipulator technology development to commercial space missions. These new mission concepts and the technology developed for NASA’s Human Robotics System Project under this SAA have the potential to open up completely new lines of commercial-space operations in payload handling, servicing, repair, and assembly.

Research performed at orbital facilities such as the International Space Station (ISS) could be dramatically more agile and competitive if there were a means for providing small-package payload delivery and sample return on a just-in-time basis. A long-reach manipulator system, such as the system that will be investigated under this SAA, would be capable of capturing or releasing small vehicles (both cooperatively and non-cooperatively) at a safe distance from ISS. As a result, these small vehicles might not be required to station-keep relative to ISS, enabling them to deliver and return payloads safely and affordably by providing just-in-time payload transport services.

Together, Altius and NASA Langley Research Center will further develop and refine the mission requirements, concepts, and technologies that could make these new and valuable commercial payload delivery/return missions viable.

About Altius Space Machines, Inc.
Altius Space Machines is a Louisville, Colorado based space technology company founded with the goal of reducing the barriers to space commerce. Altius is currently developing rendezvous and docking solutions using its Sticky Boom™ non-cooperative capture technology, for space stations and propellant depots, manned spaceflight, satellite servicing, and other applications.

About NASA Langley Research Center
Solving the tough problems in air, space and earth science is what NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia is known for. Its reputation for exceptional research started soon after Langley was established as the United States’ first civilian aeronautics laboratory in 1917. Researchers at Langley are focusing on some of the biggest technical challenges of our time: global climate change, access to space and revolutionizing airplanes and the air transportation system. For more information visit

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Press Contact:
William Bolton
VP, Business Development
Altius Space Machines