Program start date is on hold until Space Act Agreement is signed. Placeholder date of January 2014 is used as placeholder.
This project is aimed at developing an autonomous suborbital flight experiment to validate a recently developed robotics-based method for identifying the unknown or changed inertia property (the mass, mass center location, and moments of inertia) of a spacecraft in orbit. Such a method can be used to enhance spacecraft’s state estimation and control capability for future on-orbit servicing missions such as satellite refueling, rescuing, repairing, orbit debris cleaning, etc. The designed system will: (1) auto-eject a flight unit when launch vehicle reaches 0-G phase, (2) re-capture it when the 0-G phase is about to end, (3) after ejection, a small onboard robotic arm on flight unit will move around, causing attitude and angular velocity changes. The flying unit (representing a flying satellite) will measure and record the resulting 3D motion data including video images while it flies within the experiment compartment; then the flight data will be analyzed for identifying the inertia parameters of the flying unit, and be assessed for accuracy / performance.More »