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Autonomous Spacecraft Rendezvous With a Tumbling Object: Applied Reachability Analysis and Guidance and Control Strategies

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Rendezvous and proximity operations are an essential component of both military and commercial space missions and are rising in complexity. This dissertation presents an applied reachability analysis and develops a computationally feasible autonomous guidance algorithm for the purpose of spacecraft rendezvous and proximity maneuvers around a tumbling object. Recent advancements enable the use of more sophisticated,computation-based algorithms, instead of traditional control methods. These algorithms are desirable for autonomous applications due to their ability to optimize performance and explicitly handle constraints e.g.,safety, control limits. In an autonomous setting, however, some important questions must be answered before an algorithm implementation can be realized. First, the feasibility of a maneuver is addressed by analyzing the fundamental spacecraft relative dynamics. Particularly, a set of initial relative states is computed and visualized from which the desired rendezvous state can be reached i.e., backward reachability analysis. Second, with the knowledge that a maneuver is feasible, the Model Predictive Control MPC framework is utilized to design a stabilizing feedback control law that optimizes performance and incorporates constraints such as control saturation limits and collision avoidance. The MPC algorithm offers a computationally efficient guidance strategy that could potentially be implemented in real-time on-board a spacecraft.

Subject Categories:

  • Numerical Mathematics
  • Theoretical Mathematics

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