Experiments on Autonomous Spacecraft Rendezvous and Docking Using an Adaptive Artificial Potential Field Approach
Zappulla, Richard II
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Numerous missions over the past decades have pushed the state-of-the-art in au- tonomous rendezvous and proximity operations (RPO). The paramount require- ment for the various guidance algorithms performing RPO is obstacle avoidance. The Artificial Potential Function (APF) method is one such method that provides robust obstacle avoidance while attempting to complete RPO objectives. How- ever, inherent to its formulation, it is not optimal; as such, an Adaptive Artificial Potential Function (AAPF) method has been developed in an effort to reduce fuel consumption while still providing effective and flexible obstacle avoidance that is offered by traditional (APF) guidance methods. In this paper, the APF and AAPF guidance methods are developed from a theoretical standpoint and experimentally tested in a RPO-like environment in order to validate previous simulations. The experiments are performed using the Spacecraft Robotics Laboratory (SRL) Float- ing Spacecraft Simulator (FSS) test bed. The FSS test bed consists of a highly planar, polished, 15-ton granite-monolith, atop which spacecraft simulators float on approximately five microns of compressed air. Lastly, implementation consid- erations and experimental results are discussed.
26th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics meeting, Napa, California