A prototype of the robotic capture module system is tested with a mock asteroid boulder in its clutches at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.

A robotic capture module system prototype was built to help NASA engineers understand the operations required to collect a multi-ton boulder from an asteroid’s surface. The hardware includes three space frame legs with foot pads, and two seven-degrees-of-freedom arms with microspine gripper “hands” to grasp onto the boulder.

Engineers can use industrial robots, a motion-based platform, and customized algorithms to create simulations of space operations for robotic spacecraft that will be used in the Asteroid Redirect Mission.