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Many initiatives under study by both the space science and Earth science communities require large space systems, i.e. with apertures >15 m or dimensions >20 m. This paper reviews the effort in NASA Langley Research Center's Automated Structural Assembly Laboratory which laid the foundations for robotic construction of these systems. In the Automated Structural Assembly Laboratory reliable autonomous assembly and disassembly of an 8 m planar structure composed of 102 truss elements covered by 12 panels was demonstrated. The paper reviews the hardware and software design philosophy which led to reliable operation during weeks of near continuous testing. Special attention is given to highlight the features enhancing assembly reliability.