Mobile robotic system for ground testing of multi-spacecraft proximity operations Conference Paper uri icon


  • Ground testing of multi-spacecraft proximity operations with hardware in-the-loop is currently an expensive and challenging process. We present our approach to this problem, applicable to proximity operations of small spacecraft. We are developing a novel autonomous mobile robotic system to emulate full 6 degree of freedom relative motion at high fidelity. An omni-directional robotic base provides unlimited 3-DOF planar motion with moderate precision, while a micron-class hexapod on top provides high precision, limited 6-DOF motion. This multi-vehicle robotic system is designed to accommodate multiple untethered vehicles simultaneously, allowing for the real-time emulation of relative motion for a large variety of multi-spacecraft proximity operations. Compared with other facilities with similar goals, this approach will allow greater freedom of motion at a target operating cost much lower than existing facilities. We believe these capabilities will be invaluable to the growing number of small and micro satellite programs. © 2008 by the authors.

author list (cited authors)

  • Doebbler, J., Davis, J. J., Valasek, J., & Junkins, J. L.

publication date

  • December 2008