Comau has partnered with Argotec, an Italian aerospace engineering company, to develop ATENA (Advanced Testing Emulator for Nanosatellite Arm), an innovative system aimed at testing and validating the functionality of nanosatellites. ATENA simplifies simulations of satellite performance, generally carried out through complex numerical analysis and tests of hardware, software, navigation and control algorithms — which generally return results that are difficult to interpret.
The system consists of a satellite or part of it, an electronic control unit and a Comau robot. The nanosatellite (or part) is fastened to the wrist of the robot which, thanks to a closed loop configuration, recreates the movement of the satellite in orbit, during the different phases of a mission. This solution allows to test all the communication protocols of the system, also verifying the interaction between the various components. The robot chosen is the Racer7 1.4, the fastest in its class, which ensures reliability and precision in a compact mechanism. This new approach is so realistic and versatile that it can be used from the early design stages of a satellite.
ATENA represents a real breakthrough in the aerospace sector. Using the robot, it is possible to monitor the satellite’s functionality and observe its behavior directly. This provides a more immediate and simple visualization of the test results, as well as the possibility to carry out flight demos. Moreover, two or more robots can faithfully reproduce in-orbit satellite docking.
“Argotec is constantly looking for reliable technological solutions which can improve the quality of space systems and also allow possible Earth-related effects,” said David Avino, Managing Director. “In fact, according to our company vision, everything that is designed for space activities can have an immediate return on Earth, resulting in benefits in our daily life and meeting needs which haven’t been met yet. The ATENA project … represents our dynamic vision, our desire to innovate and, above all, the ability to collaborate with a multinational company like Comau, pursuing a common goal: obtaining outstanding results of international relevance by exporting the excellence of Made-in-Italy technology in the world.”
“We are proud to have contributed to the implementation of the innovative project developed by Argotec, in an extremely technological sector such as aerospace, where precision and reliability are essential components,” said Massimo Calvetto, Sales Manager GI Italy of Comau. “Our robots have proved to be the right choice to guarantee the achievement of excellent results. Comau is renewed as a leader in the automotive sector, but the company has always been ready to open up and extend its areas of application to all the other sectors as well: our advanced skills, the levels of technological excellence we have achieved and our flexible, modular and high-performance solutions are now also available to the SMEs operating in the General Industry.”