On the March 6th SpaceX launch (CRS-20), we launched seven TESSERAE v3 hardware tiles to the International Space Station for a 30 day mission! The tiles (two pentagons, five hexagons) will be selectively released on station, inside the NanoRacks "BlackBox" platform, to test autonomous self-assembly and docking over many days of sustained microgravity. These latest prototypes include an extensive suite of sensing and electro-permanent magnet actuation for full diagnostic capability (determining "good" and "bad" bonds between tiles as they join together) and structure reconfigurability.
Tessellated Electromagnetic Space Structures for the Exploration of Reconfigurable, Adaptive Environments (TESSERAE) is an autonomous, self-assembling robotic swarm of tiles. This research program, Ariel Ekblaw's MIT PhD thesis, designs and tests new paradigms for in-orbit construction of satellites and future space habitats, with the aim to support human missions to the Moon and Mars in addition to space tourism in low-Earth orbit (LEO).
Follow along below for prototype photos and eventual launch footage!
Custom electropermanent magnets (EPMs) were developed for this payload, and fabricated by Classic Coil Company in CT.