Initial SPHERES Operations aboard the International Space Station
Saenz-Otero A, et al. (2007). "Initial SPHERES Operations aboard the International Space Station." IAA Small Satellites for Earth Observation VI
The Satellite Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellites (SPHERES) program, developed by the MIT Space Systems Laboratory, began operations aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on May 2006. SPHERES was designed as a research facility to demonstrate metrology, control, and autonomy algorithms for distributed satellites systems. By operating in the risk-tolerant environment of the ISS, SPHERES allows researchers to push the limits of their algorithms. Five test sessions, conducted during 2006, achieved multiple objectives for the different areas under study. The first test session was dedicated to hardware checkout. The second test session demonstrated basic 6DOF closed-loop control of the satellites. Fault detection and isolation algorithms were also tested, successfully using the inertial measurement system to detect simulated faults in space. Formation flight tests during the fourth and fifth session demonstrated two types of control architectures. Following the principle of incremental algorithm development, demonstrations of multiple scenarios of spacecraft docking occurred during test sessions one through four; the last session demonstrated docking to a tumbling spacecraft. The results of these test sessions are the basis upon which substantial more research will be conducted in the following years.