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Autonomous Formation Flying from the Ground to FlightThe cost of on-orbit operations remains a significant and increasingly visible concern in the support of satellite missions. Headway has been made in automating some ground operations; however, increased mission complexity and more precise orbital constraints have compelled continuing human involvement in mission design and maneuver planning operations. AI Solutions, Inc. in cooperation with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has tackled these more complex problems through the development of AutoCon(TM) as a tool for an automated solution. NASA is using AutoCon(TM) to automate the maneuver planning for the Earth Orbiter-1 (EO-1) mission. AutoCon(TM) was developed originally as a ground system tool. The EO-1 mission will be using a scaled version of AutoCon(TM) on-board the EO-1 satellite to command orbit adjustment maneuvers. The flight version of AutoCon(TM) plans maneuvers based on formation flying algorithms developed by GSFC, JPL, and other industry partners. In its fully autonomous mode, an AutoCon(TM) planned maneuver will be executed on-board the satellite without intervention from the ground. This paper describes how AutoCon(TM) automates maneuver planning for the formation flying constraints of the EO-1 mission. AutoCon(TM) was modified in a number of ways to automate the maneuver planning on-board the satellite. This paper describes how the interface and functionality of AutoCon(TM) were modified to support the on-board system. A significant component of this modification was the implementation of a data smoother, based on a Kalman filter, that ensures that the spacecraft states estimated by an on-board GPS receiver are as accurate as possible for maneuver planning. This paper also presents the methodology used to scale the AutoCon(TM) functionality to fit and execute on the flight hardware. This paper also presents the modes built into the system that allow the incremental phasing in of autonomy. New technologies for autonomous operations are usually received with significant, and probably appropriate, trepidation. A number of safeguards have been designed in both AutoCon(TM) and the interfacing systems to alleviate the potential of mission-impacting anomalies from the on-board autonomous system. This paper describes the error checking, input data integrity validation, and limits set on maneuvers in AutoCon(TM) and the on-board system.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Chapman, Keith B.
(AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD United States)
Dell, Gregory T.
(AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD United States)
Rosenberg, Duane L.
(AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD United States)
Bristow, John
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: 1999 Flight Mechanics Symposium
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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