The problem of practical, space based supervisory control of a manipulator presents special problems beyond those encountered by terrestrial industrial robot systems. This is evident by examining the goals and concerns surrounding the development of intelligent robotics software for the Service Manipulator System (SMS) being developed for the European Space Agency (ESA). While some problems important in terrestrial robotics applications are simplified by the highly engineered nature of the proposed service tasks, other problems introduce new complications. Reliability and testability requirements have a major impact. Uncertainties introduced in component geometries by the stress of launch and deployment are also important. These problems are currently being explored through software experiments and the development of an intelligent robotics testbed.