Autonomous docking algorithm development and experimentation using the SPHERES testbed
Nolet, Simon, et al. (2004). "Autonomous docking algorithm development and experimentation using the SPHERES testbed." 5419: 1-15
The MIT Space Systems Laboratory (SSL) has developed a testbed for the testing of formation flight and autonomous docking algorithms in both 1-g and microgravity environments. The SPHERES testbed consists of multiple micro-satellites, or Spheres, which can autonomously control their position and attitude. The testbed can be operated on an air table in a 1-g laboratory environment, in NASA"s KC-135 reduced gravity research aircraft and inside the International Space Station (ISS). SPHERES launch to the ISS is currently manifested for May 19 2004 on Progress 14P. Various types of docking maneuvers, ranging from docking with a cooperative target to docking with a tumbling target, have been developed. The ultimate objective of this research is to integrate the different algorithms into one program that can assess the health status of the target vehicle, plan an optimal docking maneuver while accounting for the existing constraints and finally, execute that maneuver even in the presence of simulated failures. In this paper, results obtained to date on the ground based air table using the initial version of the program will be presented, as well as results obtained from microgravity experiments onboard the KC-135.