Controlling Swarms of Bandit Inspector Spacecraft

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CONFERENCE: AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites

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Neubauer, Jeremy
Hosted by Utah State University Libraries
article description
The vast foreseeable benefits of on-orbit servicing to current and future space systems have sparked the development of both large-scale servicing spacecraft and small-scale technology demonstration platforms. The latter provide the ability to prove certain crucial technologies more efficiently than their larger counterparts, due to increased responsiveness and reduced cost. Washington University’s Bandit is one such vehicle currently in progress, designed to research the sensory, autonomy, and control problems of the multivehicle, close-proximity flight necessary to nearly all of the on-orbit servicing industry’s ambitions. This study assesses the ability of behavior-based methods to solve the multi-Bandit control problem, complicated by the vehicle’s highly constrained actuation, computation, and state observation capabilities. Herein, a potential function control system is tailored specifically for vehicles operating under such constraints. A stability analysis is derived that proves this controller will lead each inspector to its final desired equilibrium state within a calculable error bound, while multiple simulations of the system are used to validate this analysis and investigate its dynamic characteristics. Results indicate that the designed controller provides desirable performance in deployment, rendezvous, and station-keeping scenarios, and also shows promise in adapting to other servicing tasks, such as autonomous docking.