NASA STTR 2011 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 11-2 T6.02-9880
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Active Debris Removal Technologies
PROPOSAL TITLE: Enabling Large-body Active Debris Removal

NAME: VectorNav Technologies, LLC NAME: Texas Engineering Experiment Station/Texas A&M University
STREET: 903 North Bowser Road, Suite 200 STREET: 3141 TAMU
CITY: Richardson CITY: College Station
STATE/ZIP: TX  75081 - 2897 STATE/ZIP: TX  77845 - 3141
PHONE: (512) 772-3615 PHONE: (979) 845-7541

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John L Junkins
3141 TAMU
College Station, TX 77845 - 3141
(979) 845-3912

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Research suggests that: (1) orbital debris has reached the point that, even with no future launches, collisions among large-body debris will lead to unstable growth in debris, and (2) removing as few as five large objects each year can stabilize debris growth. For large-body active debris removal (LB-ADR), new technologies are required to safely capture the target debris. The interactions of these complex electromechanical systems (eg. imaging systems, robotic arms and grippers) and controllers pose challenges best addressed by hardware-in-the-loop (HWIL) testing. Given the risks inherent in non-cooperative spacecraft proximity operations and the firm requirement that ADR missions do not themselves produce additional debris, realistic ground-based testing is required for risk reduction.

Our approach to HWIL contains two major advancements: (1) novel robotic technologies that overcome the limitations of existing test facilities, and (2) carefully designed spacecraft models capable of thoroughly evaluating every aspect of a capture system. The LASR Lab was built around HOMER, an omnidirectional robot designed and built specifically to emulate the 6-DOF relative-motion trajectories of spacecraft. The Phase I effort validated HOMER's capabilities and reduced to hardware the Dynamic Payload Pendulum (DPP), an actively controlled pendulum that provides the equivalent of a 5-DOF air-bearing. Together, they permit large-scale motion with accurate contact dynamics. Having identified rocket boosters as ideal LB-ADR targets, we investigated the model features necessary for realistic testing of grappling and sensing systems and for accurate dynamic response on the DPP. Leveraging the developments of Phase I and concurrent work on autonomous, vision-based navigation systems at the LASR Lab, we propose to simultaneously advance the TRL of the ground-test facility and the nav systems by performing an end-to-end simulation of an approach and capture of multiple rocket bodies.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
The advanced capabilities of the LASR Lab at Texas A&M to provide high-fidelity, hardware-in-the-loop testing is broadly applicable to any spacecraft proximity operations mission, as is the know-how generated by the development of the high-fidelity rocket body models and subsequent orbit debris capture experiments by VectorNav. VectorNav and the LASR Lab will be able to provide extensive support and testing facilities for a wide range of customers, both commercial and governmental. Missions supported include among others: GEO refueling, on-orbit servicing, and fractionated spacecraft.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Realistic ground-based testing of spacecraft proximity operations provides significant risk reduction for any active debris removal mission. The LASR Lab is uniquely capable of providing full 6-DOF relative motion capabilities at low cost. The testing and validation of the high-accuracy 6-DOF feedback tracking on HOMER, combined with the pendulum-based equivalent of a 5-DOF air bearing, will certify LASR Lab as a world-class test facility - a true dynamics version of a wind tunnel. VectorNav plans to serve as a commercial partner to LASR Lab, providing design of experiments support whenever customers contract with the LASR Lab for testing. The details gleaned from the Mock Target Trade Study of Phase I and the orbit debris capture experiment of Phase II places VectorNav in a prime position to design realistic experiments for a wide variety of customers at LASR Lab and other simulation facilities.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Algorithms/Control Software & Systems (see also Autonomous Systems)
Hardware-in-the-Loop Testing
Optical/Photonic (see also Photonics)
Positioning (Attitude Determination, Location X-Y-Z)
Relative Navigation (Interception, Docking, Formation Flying; see also Control & Monitoring; Planetary Navigation, Tracking, & Telemetry)
Simulation & Modeling

Form Generated on 02-28-13 11:49