Experimental evaluation methodology for spacecraft proximity maneuvers in a dynamic environment
Zappulla, Richard Salvatore, II
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In an effort to pursue advanced space missions, improved onboard trajectory optimization and path-planning capabilities are necessary. Regardless of the mission, the paramount requirement for any candidate guidance-and-control method is the ability to react in real time to a dynamic environment, followed by fuel efficiency. Ground-based kinodynamic test beds are critical in developing, testing, and verifying these requirements. The NPS POSEIDYN test bed is introduced here as a state-of-the-art (SOTA) dynamic, hardware-in-the-loop test bed. Key improvements to the software architecture, enabling the development of multi-rate guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) algorithms, are presented in addition to a detailed system characterization. To aid in the experimental evaluation of GNC algorithms, a Standard Test Framework is proposed in addition to a new guidance comparison metric previously missing in the literature, which simultaneously captures the computational complexity and algorithm performance. Guidance and control methods representing the SOTA are experimentally evaluated and compared against a proposed rapidly exploring random tree-based guidance method using the proposed test framework and the comparison metric.
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