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Ultra-Soft Electromagnetic Docking with Applications to In-Orbit Assembly

Foust, Rebecca C. and Lupu, Elena Sorina and Nakka, Yashwanth Kumar and Chung, Soon-Jo and Hadaegh, Fred Y. (2018) Ultra-Soft Electromagnetic Docking with Applications to In-Orbit Assembly. In: 69th International Astronautical Congress (IAC), 1-5 October 2018, Bremen, Germany.

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Docking small satellites in space is a high-risk operation due to the uncertainty in relative position and orientation and the lack of mature docking technologies. This is particularly true for missions that involve multiple docking and undocking procedures like swarm-based construction and reconfiguration. In this paper, an electromagnetic docking system is proposed to mitigate these risks through robust, ultra-soft, propellant-free docking. Designed with reconfigurable self-assembly in mind, the gripping mechanism is androgynous, able to dock at a variety of relative orientations, and tolerant of small misalignments. The mechanical and control design of the system is presented and tested in both simulation and on a fleet of 6 degree-of-freedom (DOF) spacecraft simulators. The spacecraft simulators oat on the precision flat floor facility in the Caltech Aerospace Robotics and Control lab, the largest of its kind at any university. The performance of the electromagnetic docking system on-board the simulators is then compared against a propulsive docking system.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Website
Foust, Rebecca C.0000-0003-1470-1716
Lupu, Elena Sorina0000-0002-3968-2630
Nakka, Yashwanth Kumar0000-0001-7897-3644
Chung, Soon-Jo0000-0002-6657-3907
Additional Information:© 2018 by the International Astronautical Federation (IAF). Paper ID: 46481. The work of Rebecca Foust was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship and in part by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Government sponsorship is acknowledged. The part of the work of Sorina Lupu was in fulfillment of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Master Thesis, coordinated by Professor Colin Jones. The authors also thank Lorraine Fesq, Issa Nesnas, Marco Quadrelli, Adrian Stoica, Rashied Amini and Michael Wolf for their technical input. The authors acknowledge the work done by Richard Eric Rasmussen in designing and constructing the spacecraft simulators. Thanks so much to our wonderful undergraduate students Jui Hung Sun for building the thruster experimental setup and designing version 1 of the thruster control board, David Elliot for improving the thruster control board and so much soldering, Asta Wu for optimizing the docking port design and constructing the ports, Karen Chen for helping with mechanical design of interfaces and Irene Crowell for creating a wonderful software architecture.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Space Technology Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20181010-123842437
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Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:90231
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:10 Oct 2018 20:08
Last Modified:10 Jun 2020 17:42

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