Frontiers reaches 6.4 on Journal Impact Factors

Original Research ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Robot. AI | doi: 10.3389/frobt.2018.00033

Parameterization of Fuel-Optimal Synchronous Approach Trajectories to Tumbling Targets

 David C. Sternberg1* and David Miller1
  • 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, United States

Docking with potentially tumbling Targets is a common element of many mission architectures, including on-orbit servicing and active debris removal. This paper studies synchronized docking trajectories as a way to ensure the Chaser satellite remains on the docking axis of the tumbling Target, thereby reducing collision risks and enabling persistent onboard sensing of the docking location. Chaser satellites have limited computational power available to them and the time allowed for the determination of a fuel optimal trajectory may be limited. Consequently, parameterized trajectories that approximate the fuel optimal trajectory while following synchronous approaches may be used to provide a computationally efficient means of determining near optimal trajectories to a tumbling Target. This paper presents a method of balancing the computation cost with the added fuel expenditure required for parameterization, including the selection of a parameterization scheme, the number of parameters in the parameterization, and a means of incorporating the dynamics of a tumbling satellite into the parameterization process. Comparisons of the parameterized trajectories are made with the fuel optimal trajectory, which is computed through the numerical propagation of Euler’s equations. Additionally, various tumble types are considered to demonstrate the efficacy of the presented computation scheme. With this parameterized trajectory determination method, Chaser satellites may perform terminal approach and docking maneuvers with both fuel and computational efficiency.

Keywords: trajectory, Parameterization, synchronous, Docking, Fuel Minimizing

Received: 25 Oct 2017; Accepted: 14 Mar 2018.

Edited by:

Markus Wilde, Florida Institute of Technology, United States

Reviewed by:

Josep Virgili Llop, Naval Postgraduate School, United States
Tiauw H. Go, Florida Institute of Technology, United States
Marcello Romano, Naval Postgraduate School, United States  

Copyright: © 2018 Sternberg and Miller. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. David C. Sternberg, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, 02139, MA, United States,