EFINDS: Highly Tolerant Electromagnetic-Ferromagnetic Interface Docking System

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CONFERENCE: AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites

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Roser, J. Gavin; Riley, Patrick D.; Lai, Thomas L.; Pittman, Jacob K.; Lange, Morgan E.; Keegan, Benjamin P.; Hanlon, Edward A. S.; Kang, Jin
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conference paper description
Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy (USNA) have focused on the unique challenges associated with docking small satellites. While many conventional docking mechanisms implement complex systems with numerous complications, relying on dual active satellite attitude control, the highly tolerant Electromagnetic-Ferromagnetic Interface Docking System (EFINDS) takes a different approach to rendezvous and docking. EFINDS aims to minimize cost, complexity, and risk, while executing active-to-passive small satellite rendezvous with tolerance for unpredictable attitude. Developed in conjunction with the Autonomous Mobile On-Orbit Diagnostic System (AMODS) program at USNA, EFINDS primarily serves as the docking solution for the AMODS mission, involving an active BRICSat and passive RSat, two 3U Cube Satellites. In demonstrating the ability to dock with a passive satellite, RSat, EFINDS will simultaneously validate the technology necessary to perform docking operations with CubeSat-class satellites housing cooperative EFINDS hardware. Utilizing a three stage system, EFINDS will demonstrate the technology necessary to perform docking, not just within the AMODS mission, but across the entire constellation of CubeSats in unfavorable passively-controlled conditions. This paper will detail the design and operational capabilities of EFINDS, including an outline of the interface arm, nitinol boom, and ferromagnetic interface’s capabilities. Additionally, the paper will describe the EFINDS Concept of Operations in small satellite docking.