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Gitai: Developing Robotics and Autonomous Systems for On-Orbit Satellite Servicing

Image Credits: Gitai
By: Headliners News / March 21, 2024

Meet Gitai, a Los Angeles-based tech startup, recently achieved a significant milestone in space robotics with the successful demonstration of its autonomous robotic arm outside the International Space Station (ISS). The demonstration marks a crucial step forward in the development of robotic systems designed to perform complex tasks in space, paving the way for cost-effective and efficient orbital repairs and construction projects.

Gitai’s CEO Sho Nakanose has highlighted their ambitious goal of significantly reducing in-space labor costs, drawing parallels to the transformative impact that companies like SpaceX have had on reducing launch costs. While autonomous robotic systems are still evolving, their potential to minimize the need for human labor in space operations is particularly compelling given the high costs and inherent risks associated with human spaceflight.

The autonomous robotic arm, named S2, measures 1.5 meters in length and was transported to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in January. Once installed on Nanoracks’ Bishop Airlock module, the robotic arm successfully completed a series of tasks critical for future space infrastructure development. These tasks included installing a task panel, manipulating small bolts, handling flexible materials, and connecting and disconnecting electrical cables—a testament to the versatility and precision of Gitai’s robotic technology.

Looking ahead, Gitai has its sights set on on-orbit satellite servicing, targeting spacecraft in both low Earth orbit and geostationary orbit. By leveraging its expertise in robotics and autonomous systems, Gitai aims to offer a range of services including rendezvous, docking, inspection, and de-orbiting of satellites, addressing the growing demand for sustainable and cost-effective solutions in space operations.

With plans to commence on-orbit servicing operations as early as 2026, Gitai emphasizes the maturity of its technology, with its robotic arm achieving a Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of 7—the highest level according to NASA’s standards. This milestone underscores Gitai’s commitment to advancing the field of space robotics and accelerating the transition towards a future where autonomous systems play a central role in space exploration and infrastructure development.

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