Some of the basic concepts of space engineering with an emphasis on some specific challenging areas of research that are peculiar to the application of robotics to space development and exploration are discussed. The first constraint imposed on the robotic spacecraft is the necessity of functioning in a hostile, nonterrestrial environment. All spacecrafts need to survive the stresses of launch, the vacuum and radiation of space, and for planetary deployment, the stresses of landing and the environment of the target planet. The application of robotics to spacecraft engineering imposes its own demands on the spacecraft engineer. There is a peculiar contradiction between the spacecraft engineer who tends to avoid mechanical actuation systems as potential single point failure modes and the roboticist for whom actuation provides the mode of interaction with the environment. Space robotics as a discipline is focused on more specific issues and reflects more closely the subject-area covered by terrestrial robotics.

International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Ellery, A. (2004). Space robotics part 1: What is a robotic spacecraft?. International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems, 1(1), 118–121.