Other | 27. April 2011

Vision Based Autonomous Rendezvous from 30 km to 50 m

On 5th to 6th of April the Autonomous Rendezvous (ARV) experiment number two was executed at GSOC for SSC. During this experiment an autonomous approach from 30 km down to 50 m was performed closed-loop only using the Far Range Camera (FRC) of the Vision Based Sensor (VBS) System.

The ARV experiment is one of the SSC experiments dealing with the VBS sensor system. The latter is provided by the Danish Technical University (DTU). It comprises four camera heads: Two star trackers, one far range and one close range camera.

The experiment itself relies on specific GNCĀ (guidance and navigation control) flight software implemented by SSC. Starting from a Tango search routine the spacecraft is detected by the camera in the picture frame. The far range camera locates the position of TANGO in the picture frame. The flight software from SSC uses this information within two complementary sets of navigation filters depending on the relative distance between the two spacecraft to run an autonomous approach from 30 km down to 50 m.

Most important: the experiment runs completely autonomous!

Fig. 1: TANGO imaged by VBS far range camera at the rendezvous end point at 50 m

A more detailed description and first results can be found at the SSC PRISMA blog