Ranger Patch


Ranger on a Spacelab Pallet

Ranger TSX Overview

The Ranger Telerobotic Shuttle Experiment (RTSX) evolved from the Ranger Telerobotic Flight Experiment in October 1996. RTSX intended to demonstrate telerobotic servicing on International Space Station Orbit Replaceable Units (ORUs) and EVA equipment in the Space Shuttle cargo bay. Ranger TSX was designed as a four manipulator telerobot with one permanently attached to a Spacelab pallet. The manipulators perform dexterous manipulation, body repositioning, and stereo video viewing. Ranger TSX was an Integrated Product Development effort with participation from other NASA centers, universities, and industry. The NASA Telerobotics Technology Program is the preeminent space telerobotics program in the world. Ranger would have been the most advanced space robot in (or above) the world.

The Ranger TSX mission was planned as 48 hours of telerobotic operations conducted in twelve, four-hour blocks during a single Space Shuttle mission. Ranger would launch on the Space Shuttle, and remain attached to a Spacelab pallet carrier in the cargo bay. Mounted on the sides of the Spacelab pallet are the task elements and ORU boxes which comprised the task suite of the Ranger experiment. Links with ground based control stations were planned via the Orbiter communications system and SpaceNet. Once on-orbit, Ranger would first demonstrate simple robotic task operations, then move to more realistic and difficult robotic tasks planned for the International Space Station. When the basic mission objectives were complete, Ranger would attempt human EVA spacecraft servicing and work site preparation to explore the limitations of telerobots.

A companion vehicle, Ranger NBV II, designed for the neutral buoyancy environment is still under development. Its uses include: arm and vehicle design verification, mission operations scenario verification and test, and astronaut training. RNBV II has the same physical configuration as the planned RTSX with identical manipulators. It can establish a neutral buoyancy simulation data set for correlation to future on orbit experiments.

In June 2002, the Ranger TSX program was scaled back to conserve resources while trying to find future space missions where Ranger technolgy might participate. These include possible Ranger manipulator on Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Mission 4 scheduled for September 2004, and the reimergence of commercial interest in a RTFX-type configuration.




Stage A software gold disk.


Power Mangement Units, Sensor Relay Modules, & bulkhead plate delivered.
Presentation to USAF On Orbit Servicing meeting.


Fully integrated Dexterous wrist begins run-in and functional testing.
Stage B software gold disk.


Ranger EVA mockup completes it 51st dive.



NBV II Input Power Module delivered


RTSX Ranked #2 shuttle cargo bay priority on integrated manifest priority list


Payload Operations Working Group (POWG) meeting at PSI in Cambridge, MA


EVA Mockup reaches 40 hours of neutral buoyancy test time
EVA Mockup and RNBV I feature in "Maryland Day" campus open house
Code S ranks Ranger as #1 Cargo Bay priority. See letter text
NBV II Ground Station design review.


Bore Sight Camera/LED assembly delivered


NBV II Input Power Module delivered


Briefing to Misson Operations Directorite EVA Configuration Control Board




Video Manipulator Camera/LED module delivered




EVA Technical Interchange Meeting (TIM) at UMD




 Ranger EVA Mockup unvieled at "Maryland Day" University open house


 Corde Lane successfully defends Ph.D. dissertation on RTSX operator control schemes


 Brookhaven National Lab radiation testing on arm electronics' PLDs




 RTSX successfully passes its Phase 2, Space Shuttle Program, Payload Safety Review


 Code S ranks RTSX #2 behind ISIS


 Phase 2, Payload Data Safety Package submitted to Shuttle Safety Panel


 Delta CDR completed on Positioning Leg and Ranger Latch Mechanism


 RTSX CDR on most systems

RTSX Program Objectives


RTSX Science Committee:
April 2000 to June 2002

 Dr. David Akin

 Principal Investigator

Gardell Gefke

 Project Manager

 Dr. Craig Carignan

 Robotic Control

 Dr. Corde Lane

 Human Factors

 Brook Sullivan

 Mission Operations

 Julianne Zimmerman

 Mission Training

Planned RTSX Mission Operations

The Ranger mission was envisioned as a multi-day operation controlled by two different control stations. The primary, a Flight Control Station, was to be located inside the Space Shuttle cabin. The other control station, the Ground Control Station, was for use at the Johnson Space Center PCC. This UMD advanced ground control station would have permited operational modes not planned for ISS, but which might have improve operator productivity and reduce operator fatigue. All on-orbit operations were to be compared to computer and neutral buoyancy simulations for refinement of earth-based simulations.

Ranger Vehicle Configuration

Ranger at the Work Site

Ranger Overall Physical Characteristics

Payload: The Arms and Hands

Four Robotic Manipulators


End Effecter Development: [Lead: Brook Sullivan]

Ranger End Effecters

 APFR Quarter Turn Ring Puller

APFR Paddle Gripper 

Bare Bolt Drive 

Microconical End Effecter 

Right Angle Drive 

Tether Loop Gripper 

Experimental Task Suite


Removable Task Equipment

Remote Power Control Module -  ISS RPCM ORU

Electronics Control Unit -  HST ECU ORU

Articulating Portable Foot Restraint - APFR Work site


Task Board

Contour Following

 Spring Plates

Ranger Vehicle Bus Systems
[Integration Lead: Gardell Gefke]

Electric Power System (EPS) [Lead: Wayne Deveroux]

Data Management System (DMS) [Lead: Jean-Marc Henriette]

Arm Electronics [Lead: Jean-Marc Henriette]

Telemetry and Video [Lead: Steve Sell]

Thermal Control [Lead: Dennis Loveless]

Ranger Latch Mechanisms [Lead: Marty Devaney]

Pallet Floor Secondary Structure (PFSS) [Lead: Walter Smith]

Body Structure [Lead: Marty Devaney]

Ranger TSX Software Development
[Lead: Stephen Roderick]

Ranger Manipulator and Kinematic Control [Lead: Craig Carignan]

Ranger DMS Software [Lead: Stephen Roderick]

Control Station Software [Lead: Corde Lane]

Boundary Management Software [Lead: Stephen Roderick]

Software Development Plan [Lead: Stephen Roderick]

Ranger Neutral Buoyancy Components
[Lead: Brian Roberts]

EVA Mockup during Neutral Bouyancy Test (3/16/01)

Ranger EVA Mockup [Lead: Brian Roberts]

Ranger NBV II Ground Support Station [Lead: Brian Roberts]

Ranger Controls Stations

Flight Control Station Deployed in Shuttle Middeck


Flight Control Station [Lead: Steve Sell]

Ground Control Station


Ground Control Station  [Lead: Corde Lane]

Participating Organizations



Payload Systems, Inc.
Payload Data Safety Package
Payload Integration Plan & Annexes
Interface Control Documents
Flight Control Station Integration
Ground Control Station Integration
Intergration, Verification and Test Management

 NASA Space Telerobotics Program
Funding and Grant Monitor

Veridian Enginnering
Electrical Power System
Boresight Cameras & LEDs
Video Arm Camera & LEDs
Thermal Analysis & Control
Systems Engineering Support
DCLA model and analysis

 Spacelab Logistic Pallet
Bare Spacelab Pallet for Carrier
7A.1 Orthogrids for Secondary Structure
 JSC ARSD Special Projects Office
System Environmental Testing Facilities


 Maryland RTSX Team


  Principal Investigator
Dave Akin

 Program Manager
Gardell Gefke

  Ranger TSX comments?

 SSL this Month
 Friends of the SSL
 About the SSL
  SSL Internals

Web Page Questions or Comments? Email Dave Akin

Copyright 1996-2002 Space Systems Laboratory
Last modified: 11 July 2002

All specifications subject to change without notice.