Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems (ARMADAS)


ARMADAS space port conceptual imageTo meet the needs of future deep space exploration, NASA is interested in large-scale hardware systems in the agency’s thrust areas of solar power, communications, habitats and science interests. Scalable in-space assembly of physical systems is critical to massless exploration and in-space reliance goals.

The Automated Reconfigurable Mission Adaptive Digital Assembly Systems (ARMADAS) project will develop and demonstrate the autonomous assembly of digital materials and structures. This will produce automation technologies with potential for meeting long duration and deep space infrastructure needs, including achieving in-space reliance with construction and maintenance of long duration spaceport and habitat scale systems.

The term “digital material” refers to a material that is composed of a finite set of types of discrete building blocks, with effective material properties that depend on the arrangement of these building blocks within the material. Modular and reconfigurable construction, particularly the capacity of building components to be reusable or interchangeable, have been appreciated throughout technological history. The key philosophical idea behind digital materials is that these systems can be engineered to be highly scalable, through physical error correction mechanisms (like our digital communication and computation algorithms). This exponential manufacturing strategy can also be used to create extremely high performing (specific strength and stiffness) ultralight lattice materials and structural systems that could find broad applications in aerospace systems.

The final deliverable for this project will be a small satellite-sized payload that automatically unpacks and assembles into functioning systems, such as a small habitat module and array/antenna, using onboard robotic assemblers.

Principal Technologist Project Manager
Keith Belvin ( Kenny Cheung (

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