Commenced in January 2007
Frequency: Monthly
Edition: International
Paper Count: 3

Spacecraft Autonomy Related Abstracts

3 6-Degree-Of-Freedom Spacecraft Motion Planning via Model Predictive Control and Dual Quaternions

Authors: Omer Burak Iskender, Keck Voon Ling, Vincent Dubanchet, Luca Simonini


This paper presents Guidance and Control (G&C) strategy to approach and synchronize with potentially rotating targets. The proposed strategy generates and tracks a safe trajectory for space servicing missions, including tasks like approaching, inspecting, and capturing. The main objective of this paper is to validate the G&C laws using a Hardware-In-the-Loop (HIL) setup with realistic rendezvous and docking equipment. Throughout this work, the assumption of full relative state feedback is relaxed by onboard sensors that bring realistic errors and delays and, while the proposed closed loop approach demonstrates the robustness to the above mentioned challenge. Moreover, G&C blocks are unified via the Model Predictive Control (MPC) paradigm, and the coupling between translational motion and rotational motion is addressed via dual quaternion based kinematic description. In this work, G&C is formulated as a convex optimization problem where constraints such as thruster limits and the output constraints are explicitly handled. Furthermore, the Monte-Carlo method is used to evaluate the robustness of the proposed method to the initial condition errors, the uncertainty of the target's motion and attitude, and actuator errors. A capture scenario is tested with the robotic test bench that has onboard sensors which estimate the position and orientation of a drifting satellite through camera imagery. Finally, the approach is compared with currently used robust H-infinity controllers and guidance profile provided by the industrial partner. The HIL experiments demonstrate that the proposed strategy is a potential candidate for future space servicing missions because 1) the algorithm is real-time implementable as convex programming offers deterministic convergence properties and guarantee finite time solution, 2) critical physical and output constraints are respected, 3) robustness to sensor errors and uncertainties in the system is proven, 4) couples translational motion with rotational motion.

Keywords: Model Predictive Control, Spacecraft Autonomy, rendezvous and docking, dual quaternion, real-time experimental test, space servicing

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2 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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1 Time Optimal Control Mode Switching between Detumbling and Pointing in the Early Orbit Phase

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