L. Simonini


3 Time Optimal Control Mode Switching between Detumbling and Pointing in the Early Orbit Phase

Authors: O. B. Iskender, L. Simonini, W. M. Ng, J. M. Gonzalez


A multitude of factors, including mechanical imperfections of the deployment system and separation instance of satellites from launchers, oftentimes results in highly uncontrolled initial tumbling motion immediately after deployment. In particular, small satellites which are characteristically launched as a piggyback to a large rocket, are generally allocated a large time window to complete detumbling within the early orbit phase. Because of the saturation risk of the actuators, current algorithms are conservative to avoid draining excessive power in the detumbling phase. This work aims to enable time-optimal switching of control modes during the early phase, reducing the time required to transit from launch to sun-pointing mode for power budget conscious satellites. This assumes the usage of B-dot controller for detumbling and PD controller for pointing. Nonlinear Euler's rotation equations are used to represent the attitude dynamics of satellites and Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) reaction wheels and magnetorquers are used to perform the manoeuver. Simulation results will be based on a spacecraft attitude simulator and the use case will be for multiple orbits of launch deployment general to Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites.

Keywords: Spacecraft Autonomy, Small Satellites, Attitude Control, detumbling, time optimal control

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2 Hardware-In-The-Loop Relative Motion Control: Theory, Simulation and Experimentation

Authors: O. B. Iskender, K. V. Ling, V. Dubanchet, L. Simonini


This paper presents a Guidance and Control (G&C) strategy to address spacecraft maneuvering problem for future Rendezvous and Docking (RVD) missions. The proposed strategy allows safe and propellant efficient trajectories for space servicing missions including tasks such as approaching, inspecting and capturing. This work provides the validation test results of the G&C laws using a Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) setup with two robotic mockups representing the chaser and the target spacecraft. Through this paper, the challenges of the relative motion control in space are first summarized, and in particular, the constraints imposed by the mission, spacecraft and, onboard processing capabilities. Second, the proposed algorithm is introduced by presenting the formulation of constrained Model Predictive Control (MPC) to optimize the fuel consumption and explicitly handle the physical and geometric constraints in the system, e.g. thruster or Line-Of-Sight (LOS) constraints. Additionally, the coupling between translational motion and rotational motion is addressed via dual quaternion based kinematic description and accordingly explained. The resulting convex optimization problem allows real-time implementation capability based on a detailed discussion on the computational time requirements and the obtained results with respect to the onboard computer and future trends of space processors capabilities. Finally, the performance of the algorithm is presented in the scope of a potential future mission and of the available equipment. The results also cover a comparison between the proposed algorithms with Linear–quadratic regulator (LQR) based control law to highlight the clear advantages of the MPC formulation.

Keywords: Space Robotics, autonomous vehicles, Embedded Optimization, rendezvous and docking, real-time experiment

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1 A Tutorial on Model Predictive Control for Spacecraft Maneuvering Problem with Theory, Experimentation and Applications

Authors: O. B. Iskender, K. V. Ling, V. Dubanchet, L. Simonini


This paper discusses the recent advances and future prospects of spacecraft position and attitude control using Model Predictive Control (MPC). First, the challenges of the space missions are summarized, in particular, taking into account the errors, uncertainties, and constraints imposed by the mission, spacecraft and, onboard processing capabilities. The summary of space mission errors and uncertainties provided in categories; initial condition errors, unmodeled disturbances, sensor, and actuator errors. These previous constraints are classified into two categories: physical and geometric constraints. Last, real-time implementation capability is discussed regarding the required computation time and the impact of sensor and actuator errors based on the Hardware-In-The-Loop (HIL) experiments. The rationales behind the scenarios’ are also presented in the scope of space applications as formation flying, attitude control, rendezvous and docking, rover steering, and precision landing. The objectives of these missions are explained, and the generic constrained MPC problem formulations are summarized. Three key design elements used in MPC design: the prediction model, the constraints formulation and the objective cost function are discussed. The prediction models can be linear time invariant or time varying depending on the geometry of the orbit, whether it is circular or elliptic. The constraints can be given as linear inequalities for input or output constraints, which can be written in the same form. Moreover, the recent convexification techniques for the non-convex geometrical constraints (i.e., plume impingement, Field-of-View (FOV)) are presented in detail. Next, different objectives are provided in a mathematical framework and explained accordingly. Thirdly, because MPC implementation relies on finding in real-time the solution to constrained optimization problems, computational aspects are also examined. In particular, high-speed implementation capabilities and HIL challenges are presented towards representative space avionics. This covers an analysis of future space processors as well as the requirements of sensors and actuators on the HIL experiments outputs. The HIL tests are investigated for kinematic and dynamic tests where robotic arms and floating robots are used respectively. Eventually, the proposed algorithms and experimental setups are introduced and compared with the authors' previous work and future plans. The paper concludes with a conjecture that MPC paradigm is a promising framework at the crossroads of space applications while could be further advanced based on the challenges mentioned throughout the paper and the unaddressed gap.

Keywords: Convex optimization, Model Predictive Control, Spacecraft Autonomy, rendezvous and docking

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