Development of a guidance, navigation and control architecture and validation process enabling autonomous docking to a tumbling satellite
Author(s)Nolet, Simon, 1975-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
David W. Miller.
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The capability to routinely perform autonomous docking is a key enabling technology for future space exploration, as well as assembly and servicing missions for spacecraft and commercial satellites. Particularly, in more challenging situations where the target spacecraft or satellite is tumbling, algorithms and strategies must be implemented to ensure the safety of both docking entities in the event of anomalies. However, difficulties encountered in past docking missions conducted with expensive satellites on orbit have indicated a lack of maturity in the technologies required for such operations. Therefore, more experimentation must be performed to improve the current autonomous docking capabilities. The main objectives of the research presented in this thesis are to develop a guidance, navigation and control (GN&C) architecture that enables the safe and fuel-efficient docking with a free tumbling target in the presence of obstacles and anomalies, and to develop the software tools and verification processes necessary in order to successfully demonstrate the GN&C architecture in a relevant environment. The GN&C architecture was developed by integrating a spectrum of GN&C algorithms including estimation, control, path planning, and failure detection, isolation and recovery algorithms.(cont.) The algorithms were implemented in GN&C software modules for real-time experimentation using the Synchronized Position Hold Engage and Reorient Experimental Satellite (SPHERES) facility that was created by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory. Operated inside the International Space Station (ISS), SPHERES allow the incremental maturation of formation flight and autonomous docking algorithms in a risk-tolerant, microgravity environment. Multiple autonomous docking operations have been performed in the ISS to validate the GN&C architecture. These experiments led to the first autonomous docking with a tumbling target ever achieved in microgravity. Furthermore, the author also demonstrated successful docking in spite of the presence of measurement errors that were detected and rejected by an online fault detection algorithm. The results of these experiments will be discussed in this thesis. Finally, based on experiments in a laboratory environment, the author establishes two processes for the verification of GN&C software prior to on-orbit testing on the SPHERES testbed.
Thesis (Sc. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, 2007.Includes bibliographical references (p. 307-324).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Aeronautics and Astronautics.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Aeronautics and Astronautics.