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Small Business Innovation Research/Small Business Tech Transfer

3-D Docking Sensor Algorithms, Phase II

Completed Technology Project

Project Description

3-D Docking Sensor Algorithms, Phase II
The need for a multi-purpose long-range 3-D sensor to perform spacecraft rendezvous, docking, and inspection has been made abundantly clear by the number of organizations pursuing various solutions to this problem for a multitude of applications. The proposed sensor is uniquely capable of addressing a wide array of needs in civil space, defense and commercial space communities: from autonomous satellite servicing for extending the life of expensive space assets, to performing space situational awareness for defense purposes, to future Moon and Mars vehicle navigation. Our approach offers the singularly attractive characteristics that it does not require any targeting aids on the asset of interest; it can provide long-range rendezvous at potentially tens of kilometers in addition to close-range inspection; and its solid-state design (no moving parts), minimal size, mass and power, make it practical for micro-satellite platforms. The proposed sensor also differs from similar 3-D approaches in that it is based on a commercially available unit that has a clear path to low cost production for commercial applications. While Phase I focused on establishing feasibility, developing a methodology and preliminary algorithms for processing the range data, Phase II will involve the build and test of a prototype, developing a toolbox of algorithms for processing the data, and addressing a path to space qualification. The proposed innovation would provide a significant technological breakthrough and make 3-D sensing practical and affordable for many spacecraft platforms and missions. More »

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This is a historic project that was completed before the creation of TechPort on October 1, 2012. Available data has been included. This record may contain less data than currently active projects.