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Autonomous In-Orbit Satellite Assembly from a Modular Heterogeneous Swarm

Foust, Rebecca C. and Lupu, E. Sorina and Nakka, Yashwanth K. and Chung, Soon-Jo and Hadaegh, Fred Y. (2020) Autonomous In-Orbit Satellite Assembly from a Modular Heterogeneous Swarm. Acta Astronautica, 169 . pp. 191-205. ISSN 0094-5765.

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This paper presents a decentralized, distributed guidance and control scheme to combine a heterogeneous swarm of component satellites into a large satellite structure. The component satellites for the heterogeneous swarm are chosen to promote flexibility in final shape inspired by crystal structures and Islamic tile art. After the ideal fundamental building blocks are selected, basic nanosatellite-class satellite designs are made to assist in simulations involving attitude control. The Swarm Orbital Construction Algorithm (SOCA) is a guidance and control algorithm to allow for the limited type heterogeneity and docking ability required for in-orbit assembly. The algorithm consists of two parts, a distributed auction which uses barrier functions to ensure the proper agent selection for each target, and a trajectory generation portion which leverages model predictive control and sequential convex programming to achieve optimal collision-free trajectories to the desired target point even with nonlinear system dynamics. The optimization constraints use a boundary layer to determine whether the collision avoidance or the docking constraints should be applied. The algorithm was tested in a simulated perturbed 6-DOF spacecraft dynamic environment for planar and out-of-plane final structures and on two robotic platforms, including a swarm of frictionless spacecraft simulation robots.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription ItemConference Paper
Foust, Rebecca C.0000-0003-1470-1716
Chung, Soon-Jo0000-0002-6657-3907
Alternate Title:Autonomous In-Orbit Satellite Assembly from a Modular Heterogeneous Swarm using Sequential Convex Programming
Additional Information:© 2020 IAA. Published by Elsevier. Received 30 May 2019, Revised 12 November 2019, Accepted 2 January 2020, Available online 7 January 2020. This work was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship. Government sponsorship is acknowledged. This research was carried out in part at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Space Technology Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Subject Keywords:self-assembly; optimal guidance and control; satellite; docking; optimal assignment; swarm systems
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20200107-111109197
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Official Citation:Rebecca C. Foust, E. Sorina Lupu, Yashwanth K. Nakka, Soon-Jo Chung, Fred Y. Hadaegh, Autonomous in-orbit satellite assembly from a modular heterogeneous swarm, Acta Astronautica, Volume 169, 2020, Pages 191-205, ISSN 0094-5765, (
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:100540
Deposited By: George Porter
Deposited On:07 Jan 2020 19:24
Last Modified:31 Jan 2020 17:36

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