NASA plans to launch a technology module with an unmanned SpaceX-built cargo spacecraftÂ in a bid to demonstrate autonomous rendezvous in space.
TheÂ RavenÂ module will be deployed aboardÂ Dragon spacecraft as part of SpaceX’s 10th commercial resupply mission to theÂ International Space Station,Â NASAÂ said Tuesday.
Raven willÂ test technologies that could facilitateÂ development of aÂ relative navigation system for future NASA missions such as on-orbit spacecraft servicing.
“Two spacecraft autonomously rendezvousing is crucial for many future NASA missions and Raven is maturing this never-before-attempted technology,” said Ben Reed, deputy division director for the satellite servicing projects division at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
Raven will be attachedÂ on ISS to provideÂ information for the development of a real-time relative navigation system designed toÂ help spacecraft servers track and catch targets.
NASA said the module’s components will work to independently image and track incoming and outgoing spacecraft that visit ISS.
The agency looksÂ to deployÂ Raven’s future relative navigationÂ system in an upcoming servicing mission that will use theÂ Restore-L robotic spacecraftÂ to refuel the Landsat 7 Earth-observing satellite.