An artist’s conception shows the LEO Knight space robot at right, working on a small satellite in orbit. (Tethers Unlimited Illustration)
Bothell, Wash.-based Tethers Unlimited works on space technologies ranging from radios to robotic arms, but the company is planning to put all those pieces together to create a space robot called “LEO Knight.”
“LEO Knight is a microsat-class system intended to support in-space servicing, in-space assembly and in-space manufacturing activities,” Tethers Unlimited CEO Robert Hoyt told GeekWire in an email. “Likely timeline for the first mission is 3-4 years from now.”
The robot takes advantage of technologies that Tethers Unlimited has been developing under the terms of NASA and Defense Department contracts, plus some internally funded projects. Hoyt ticked off the list:
Hydros thruster: Hydros uses electrolysis to split water into hydrogen and oxygen gas, which can then be burned as rocket propellants. The concept meshes well with the idea of extracting water ice from the moon or near-Earth asteroids for spacecraft refueling. Three Hydros-M flight units already have been delivered to Millennium Space Systems, and Hoyt said a Hydros-C module is due for launch on the PTD-1 CubeSat mission in December.
Kraken robotic arm: Tethers Unlimited has been ...