Automated Spacecraft Docking Using a Vision-Based Relative Navigation Sensor

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Title: Automated Spacecraft Docking Using a Vision-Based Relative Navigation Sensor
Author: Morris, Jeffery C.
Abstract: Automated spacecraft docking is a concept of operations with several important potential applications . One application that has received a great deal of attention recently is that of an automated docking capable unmanned re -supply spacecraft . In addition to being useful for re -supplying orbiting space stations , automated shuttles would also greatly facilitate the manned exploration of nearby space objects , including the Moon , near -Earth asteroids , or Mars . These vehicles would allow for longer duration human missions than otherwise possible and could even accelerate human colonization of other worlds . This thesis develops an optimal docking controller for an automated docking capable spacecraft . An innovative vision -based relative navigation system called VisNav is used to provide real -time relative position and orientation estimates , while a Kalman post -filter generates relative velocity and angular rate estimates from the VisNav output . The controller's performance robustness is evaluated in a closed -loop automated spacecraft docking simulation of a scenario in circular lunar orbit . The simulation uses realistic dynamical models of the two vehicles , both based on the European Automated Transfer Vehicle . A high -fidelity model of the VisNav sensor adds realism to the simulated relative navigation measurements . The docking controller's performance is evaluated in the presence of measurement noise , with the cases of sensor noise only , vehicle mass errors plus sensor noise , errors in vehicle moments of inertia plus sensor noise , initial starting position errors plus sensor noise , and initial relative attitude errors plus sensor noise each being considered . It was found that for the chosen cases and docking scenario , the final controller was robust to both types of mass property modeling errors , as well as both types of initial condition modeling errors , even in the presence of sensor noise . The VisNav system was found to perform satisfactorily in all test cases , with excellent estimate error convergence characteristics for the scenario considered . These results demonstrate preliminary feasibility of the presented docking system , including VisNav , for space -based automated docking applications .
URI: http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -08 -2820
Date: 2010-01-14


Automated Spacecraft Docking Using a Vision-Based Relative Navigation Sensor. Available electronically from http : / /hdl .handle .net /1969 .1 /ETD -TAMU -2009 -08 -2820 .

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