IOSM Digital Environment
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Development of digital standards design and architecture report for a cyber-physical / digital twin system at the IOSM (In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing) robotics facility situated within the Wescott Space Cluster – funded by Innovate UK as part of the UK’s Innovation Strategy for Robotics and Smart Machines and AI, Digital & Advanced Computing.
The Story so Far
In-Orbit Servicing and Manufacturing (IOSM) is a UK space sector growth area, enabling a sustainable orbital environment and new technologies to become a reality, e.g. a space-based solar power station, or spacecraft designed to travel beyond our solar system.
To date, IOSM assembly has been carried out by astronauts which is high cost and high risk. The move to digitally enabled robotics allows risks to be significantly reduced and commercial models to be created that provide economic growth and a sustainable space environment.
To support the UK’s IOSM robotics development, we have created a testing and validation facility at Westcott, equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The industry is using the site to deliver a step-change in robotics and digital capabilities, skills development, and new products and services.
The facility allows organisations to test their solutions in a simulated environment, using robotic technologies to validate new robot models designed specifically for IOSM mission scenarios.
Development of a digital twin of the IOSM Robotics facility is crucial to UK success in this market space. To prove flight readiness, digital validation is critical to give extra insights and drastically reduce costs and effort, complementing the physical testing of IOSM tools, robotics, and techniques.
Creating a Digital Twin environment will help drive the creation of open-source standards for the IOSM marketplace, allowing SME’s to reduce their capital risk (removing the need to develop this capability internally).
Digital modelling of complex flight and contact dynamics, in a digital twin/cyber-physical infrastructure environment is critically important. During IOSM operations these interactions can understand and replicate the physical system.
The creation of a cyber physical system that combines physical and cyber systems allows for mission validation, fault finding and crucially, skills and capabilities development in a secure environment.
Within a growing global space economy, In-Orbit servicing and manufacturing is expected to be worth $4.4 billion by 2030. With no dominant players, there is a real opportunity for the UK.
The IOSM facility is destined to be a focal point not just for robotics, but for manufacturing activities to support UK growth in this market. By nurturing growth, the UK can show leadership in space sustainability, the development of cyber physical systems, IOSM Close Proximity Operations standards, and robotics for remote and challenging environments.
Longer-term, the development of the IOSM facility (including the Digital Twin) will allow the UK to prepare itself for the commercialisation of space, e.g., space based solar power stations for clean energy generation, in-situ resource utilisation for lunar colonies, extending the useful life of existing assets or dealing with debris sustainably.
The objectives of the IOSM work stream are to progress the development of the IOSM Robotics Facility situated in the Westcott Space Cluster through the development of digital standards design for the securement of further funding and the installation of a cyber-physical robot arm controller (haptic device).