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Flexible Multi-Body Spacecraft Simulator: Design, Construction, and Experiments

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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The aim of this thesis was to develop and construct a flexible multi-body spacecraft simulator for use in testing optimal control-based slew and maneuver designs. The simulator is modified from an earlier prototype, which had a flexible arm and actuated robotic arm on an aluminum plate atop an air bearing. The new simulator features enhanced capabilities, with an improved passive flexible appendage, a commercial-off-the-shelf COTS robotic arm, a reaction wheel momentum control system, a wireless flight control system, and a battery-powered electrical distribution system. The COTS robotic arm was modified to function with either flexible or rigid joints, and was used as a basis for initial experimentation. The simulators purpose is to test agile cooperative maneuvers designed using optimal control theory. A specific maneuver was developed and tested for the robotic arm in its flexible joint configuration. It is shown experimentally that maneuver time could be reduced by 50 as compared to a baseline standard maneuver, and that the optimal control-based solution significantly reduced post maneuver vibrations.

Subject Categories:

  • Unmanned Spacecraft
  • Computer Programming and Software

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