METECS is so proud to be a contributor to NASA’s Artemis program and part of humanity’s return to the Moon. The beautiful launch this morning reminds us of how much inspiration our human-spaceflight program can bring to the Earth. Congratulations to NASA and also the many contractors and international partners who contributed to this great achievement. (Image credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)
On September 8th, NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins installed the hardware for the 3rd phase of the NASA REALM project known as REALM-3. REALM is a NASA project which serves to demonstrate RFID-based logistics management for human spaceflight. This third phase involves the concept of “smart stowage” and includes an RFID reader and antennas embedded into the stowage rack shown above.
Congratulations to all of the METECS team members and our civil servant counterparts for this big milestone in the REALM project.
On the August 25th broadcast of NBC Nightly News, there was a segment showing Lester Holt’s recent visit to NASA’s Johnson Space Center to discuss the Artemis Moon program. During the segment you can see a number of simulations of lunar operations that METECS has significantly contributed to.
Congratulations to the METECS team members who have contributed to these simulations and the facilities that contain them!
Watch the NBC news segment here:
Recently METECS acquired additional office space in a suite adjacent to our existing location. In summer of 2022 we began renovations on both suites to merge them into one which will almost double the square footage we had previously. On top of additional office space, we’re excited to announce a new All Hands room! This will be a great space to allow our employees to gather, share ideas, and celebrate progress.
Congratulations to the Robotics, Simulation, and Graphics Support (RSGS) Team on completing the Space Station Remote Manipulator System (SSRMS) Latching End Effector (LEE) re-validation! The METECS RSGS Team has developed, maintained, and validated these LEE contact and mechanism simulation models for a number of years and continues to maintain/improve them. This LEE simulation model is used at NASA for both SSRMS analysis simulations as well as training simulations, which means that it is important that it behave just like the real system. This re-validation activity involved comparing the LEE model response to the expected response data provided by the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) for several different test cases. When differences in the simulation response were detected, the RSGS Team worked closely with CSA to identify the root cause of the mismatch and make and/or coordinate the appropriate adjustments. Great work RSGS Team on completing this re-validation!
Special thanks to Nick Davis who led the effort for a METECS team entry at the Johnson Space Center Chili Cook-off this year. There was even a special appearance by “Chili-bot” to stir the pot!
Also a thank you to the many employees and family members that helped contribute to a great day.
NASA recently completed successful testing of a new Mission Control Center (MCC) Big Board display replacement named “New Development Distributed Earth Model Orbital System“ (NDDEMOS) which uses MCC telemetry and ephemeris real-time data to display elements such as the ISS, Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System (TDRS), ground sites, loss of signal locations, visiting vehicle information and other relevant telemetry data for the NASA Flight Control Room. This new web-based product is a replacement for the existing MCC DEMOS display which is reaching end-of-life with respect to maintainability.
Congratulations to the METECS team members who have worked so hard to get NDDEMOS to this operational milestone.
On December 6th 2021, the 3rd RFID Recon Science activity took place in the International Space Station. In this operation, METECS employees tested the advanced RFID homing capabilities that the Recon add-on RFID module gives the Astrobee freeflying robot. (You can read more about the Astrobee robot here: https://www.nasa.gov/astrobee)
How did the activity go? RFID Recon Science 3 was a great success! Three homing attempts with the robot were performed, each better than the last.
The first two attempts were performed with the target RFID tag starting in front of and above the Astrobee Freeflyer robot. We ended within 15 inches of the target tag on both runs, with the second run ending closer than the first.
The third attempt was performed with the target tag starting behind and above the robot. Even though this starting configuration was more challenging than the scenario from the first two attempts, we autonomously homed in on the target so closely that the robot touched the tag!
This year METECS went into production mode on our Orion and ISS Hand Controllers. METECS had previously delivered three sets of Orion hand controllers in 2020. This year we produced seven sets of these Orion hand controllers (a set being one translational HC and one rotational HC) and six of these sets were delivered to NASA. In April we also started design on the ISS variant of the hand controllers and by the end of July we delivered our first two sets of them to NASA. Overall, we also produced seven sets of the ISS variant this year and delivered six sets to NASA.
As part of this project, we also developed two test rigs (one for each HC type) to document deflection/force curves for each HC unit that is delivered. In September we were asked by NASA to build one of these rigs for use on the Orion program to test actual engineering HC units against flight specifications. At the time, testing turnaround on the HCs was impeding the schedule and our test rig helped to reduce that time and speed up test iterations.
It is also worth noting that this summer our interns designed a test rig to facilitate some materials testing research to determine the most suitable 3D printed material to be used in production of the hand controllers. We really appreciate their contribution to this project!
We know that the past year has been a turbulent one for many people, but we are celebrating our accomplishments in 2021 and the many opportunities for 2022. We are very grateful for our employees, our customers, and our exciting work and we are looking forward to a great new year.