SOURIAU Connectors Part of Final Space Shuttle Cargo to International Space Station
Some very special SOURIAU connectors are aboard the historic last flight of the Space Shuttle Atlantis as part of NASA’s Robotic Refueling Mission module.
These connectors provide a critical power and data link between the module and the robotic manipulator known as “DEXTRE” (Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator). The Robotic Refueling Mission (RRM) module is part of an experiment that will pave the way for on-orbit refueling and servicing of satellites. Satellites are filled with fuel prior to launch and are not designed with the intention of accessing the fuel tank once they arrive in orbit. A series of seals, caps and thermal blankets cover the fuel tank access. The RRM consists of 4 specialized tools that will enable the DEXTRE robot to access the fuel port and transfer fuel to the satellite’s tank. This will extend the life of satellites that depend on liquid fuel for maneuvering and orbit-conservation.
Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) launched on Friday, July 8 and docked with the International Space Station on Sunday, July 10. On Tuesday, July 12, the RMM module was installed onto the Station’s DEXTRE unit during the last spacewalk to be performed from the Shuttle’s cargo bay – another historic event. The SOURIAU connectors were designed and built to withstand the extremely harsh environment of space, especially with regards to large temperature differentials and mechanical stress.
SOURIAU is proud to be a part of this important program.