NASA SBIR 2005 Solicitation


SUBTOPIC TITLE:Guidance, Navigation and Control
PROPOSAL TITLE:Hybrid Guidance System for Relative Navigation

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Advanced Optical Systems, Inc.
6767 Old Madison Pike, Suite 410
Huntsville, AL 35806-2172
(256) 971-0036

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Joel D Burcham
6767 Old Madison Pike, Suite 410
Huntsville, AL  35806-2172
(256) 971-0036

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Automated Rendezvous and Capture (AR&C) is a critical United States technology gap. AR&C is identified as a critical enabling technology for future NASA Exploration and DoD missions including NASA's CEV, operation and commercial cargo re-supply to ISS, lunar transfer vehicle assembly and MARS missions. Multiple sensors that provide relative measurements of range, bearing and pose are the key to meeting the safety related issues with implementation of this technology.

This Phase II effort will provide a real-time hardware-in-the-loop demonstration using the robotic arm to autonomously capture a target spacecraft. The baseline demonstration uses a ground-based variant of the Space Shuttle robotic arm to grapple an uncooperative target. In Phase II, AOS will build an HGS prototype and demonstrate its performance in a hardware-in-the-loop scenario. The prototype employs a modular design approach to the integrated sensor suite. Initially, only the sensor subset addressing passive range and pose estimation will be implemented. Additional sensor modalities will be added as determined in the requirements development.

The demonstration baseline employs a robotic arm supported on an air bearing floor and a free floating robot operating as the target vehicle. An air bearing floor allows the arm and target to move freely in three relative degrees of freedom. HGS provides an error signal and possibly associated rates along the axes. These signals drive the arm guidance with sufficient accuracy to successfully grapple the target.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Formation flying missions involving micro-satellites is considered a significant growth area for government and commercial programs. Extremely large spacecraft would be required to provide the aperture sizes and focal lengths that are needed for certain science missions; the size of these spacecraft would prevent them from being launched cost-effectively with existing launch vehicles. However, several satellites functioning together in tight formation can create a synthetic aperture or array that mimics what would be possible with a much larger vehicle. One of the significant challenges today in achieving these missions is small relative navigation sensors that can complement RGPS/DGPS to maintain formation integrity: the proposed HGS would be a significant step in enabling more challenging missions.

Advanced rendezvous and docking encompasses both crew-assisted rendezvous and docking as well as autonomous operations. The multi-use components and navigation fusion algorithms of the HGS would be ideally suited to support such missions. The HGS could potentially be used aboard NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), the Lunar Surface Ascent Module (LSAM), and the unmanned cargo transport vehicle for the ISS.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Outside of government funding, following the success of SpaceShipOne in the fall of 2004, the commercial space movement now has its eyes set on orbital spaceflight. Robert Bigelow has offered a $50M prize similar to the 2004 Ansari X-prize for an orbital vehicle that can dock with his proposed inflatable space station and complete two missions in 2 months by 2010. The rendezvous and docking required to achieve this is one of the more serious technology hurdles facing companies considering entering this competition.

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.

Attitude Determination and Control
Autonomous Control and Monitoring
Guidance, Navigation, and Control
Pilot Support Systems
Telemetry, Tracking and Control

Form Printed on 07-25-06 17:04