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  • Spacecraft proximity maneuver kinematics and dynamics testbed

    • ​Workspace: 9.4 m × 9.7 m × 2.7 m

    • Maneuver Kinematics Simulator

    • Integrated Flat-Floor Motion Dynamics

    • High-Precision Air-Bearing Table

  • Orbital lighting simulation

  • Real-time object tracking using OptiTrack system

  • Control Room with space dedicated to prototype system operators

  • Hardware integration and storage spaces

  • All lab components interconnected by WiFi

  • Network ports for remote connectivity available

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Spacecraft Kinematics and Dynamics Testbed

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Maneuver Kinematics Simulator

  • Planar, gantry-based simulator for relative orbital dynamics between two spacecraft

  • Combination of motion table and pan-tilt mechanisms enable simulation of 3D viewing conditions.

  • Workspace: 5.5 m x 3.5 m

  • Pan-tilt mechanisms for test articles of up to 20 kg, supplied with 120 V AC and Ethernet

  • Pan-tilt heads can be removed to support other mechanisms, such as robotic manipulators

  • Enables sensor testing, GNC law verification, teleoperation experiments, etc.

  • Total 6 degrees of freedom

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Maneuver Dynamics Simulators

  • Two air-bearing motion dynamics testbeds enable experiments of spacecraft maneuver dynamics and contact dynamics.

Integrated Flat Floor

  • 5.9 m x 3.6 m acrylic flat floor within the frames of the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator

  • Enables coordinated use of gantry mechanism with
    air-bearing vehicles for kinematics/dynamics experiments such as robotic capture of debris objects

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High-Precision Air-Bearing Table


  • 3.6 m x 1.8 m tempered glass plate on optical bench with pneumatic vibration isolators

  • Enables experiments in contact dynamics, spacecraft controls, formation flight, docking/capture, etc

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Planar Air-Bearing Vehicles

  • Planar air-bearing vehicles (ABV) for formation flight and docking / capture experiments

  • Propulsion: custom thrusters using compressed N2

  • Attitude control: Thrusters or custom reaction wheels

  • On-board computer: Intel i5

  • Endurance: ~20 minutes

  • Aluminum frame allows easy attachment of capture tools, docking interfaces, sensors, robot manipulators, etc.

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Chaser and target air-bearing vehicles (ABV)

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Custom N2 thrusters

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Custom reaction wheel

Lighting Simulation

  • Hilio D12 LED high-intensity light panel used to simulate orbital lighting conditions

  • Light panel is daylight balanced

  • Equivalent to 2000 W incandescent light

  • Intensity sufficient to oversaturate dynamic range of cameras, produce stark light/shadow differences, and blind laser range finders.

  • Lens inserts used to change the beam angle between 15° and 60°.

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OptiTrack System

  • 12-camera OptiTrack Prime 17W system tracks objects within the ORION Lab with sub-millimeter and sub-degree accuracy

  • Objects are defined by four infrared reflectors

  • Real-time streaming of tracking data on the lab network

  • Used in closed-loop control of the Maneuver Kinematics Simulator

  • For formation flight and docking experiments, OptiTrack can be used as stand-in for relative navigation sensors

  • For sensor testing, the OptiTrack data serves as ground truth

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Control Station

  • ORION Control Room has a control station for the testbed and multiple workstations for equipment operators and test engineers

  • Teleoperation console equipped with multiple input devices to support experiments in the teleoperation of ground, air, and space robots and vehicles.

  • Operator at teleoperation console do not have direct sight of the testbed and all video and telemetry channels can feature artificial time delays.

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Control Station

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Teleoperation Console

Cooperative Point Cloud Processing

  • Use of multiple swarm satellites equipped with 3D cameras (stereoscopic / time-offlight) to produce point-cloud model of resident space object

  • Point cloud will be processed to:

    • Characterize target motion (tumbling axis and rates)

    • Map geometry of target

    • Identify surface features for capture, servicing, neutralization, etc.

  • Capability enables swarms of small satellites to inspect, characterize, safely approach and engage non-cooperative resident space object

  • Applications:

    • On-orbit servicing

    • Debris removal

    • Inspection

    • Protection and defense

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Visual and point cloud images of a target object in the Autonomy Lab

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