NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-1 S2.01-8499
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Precision Spacecraft Formations for Telescope Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Topology Control Algorithms for Spacecraft Formation Flying Networks Unde r Connectivity and Time-Delay Constraints

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Scientific Systems Company, Inc.
500 West Cummings Park, Suite 3000
Woburn, MA 01801 - 6562
(781) 933-5355

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Jovan D Boskovic
500 West Cummings Park Suite 3000
Woburn, MA 01801 - 6562
(781) 933-5355

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 2 to 3

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
SSCI is proposing to develop a set of topology control algorithms for a formation flying spacecraft that can be used to design and evaluate candidate formation architectures. Properties of these topology control algorithms include: (a) Preserving the connectivity of the underlying state-dependent sensing graph during reconfiguration and re-targeting of the formation;
(b) Achieving a balanced interplay between performance and robustness to communication delays; and (c) Using only local information to make local decisions that collectively guarantee the global properties such as the network connectivity. Phase I effort will deliver a preliminary software analysis tool to help the NASA TPFI team evaluate these trade-offs for candidate TPFI architectures. In order to achieve these objectives we plan to carry out the following tasks:
(i) Develop algorithms to maximize the connectivity under limited FOV constraints. (ii) Analyze the trade-off between network connectivity and robustness to communication delays. (iii) Design algorithms to maintain connectivity during a pre-specified reconfiguration with energy optimal trajectories.
(iv) Demonstrate the application of the developed methods to TPF-I baseline mission.
In Phase II the goal is to deliver to NASA a complete set of algorithms and software tools to perform distributed communication design for TPF-I as well as other formation flying missions that may involve a larger number of spacecraft. These algorithms and software will be tested on high fidelity formation flying testbeds at JPL such as FAST or FCT.Professor Mehran Mesabhi of University of Washington will provide technical support under the project.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Formation flying is a critical element in NASA's search for Earthlike planets. Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF), NASA's first space-based mission to directly observe planets outside our own solar system, will rely on formation flying to achieve the functionality and benefits of a large instrument using multiple lower cost smaller spacecraft. Aqua mission of the Goddard Space Flight Center will use formation flying concepts (``A-Train'') to collaborate with multiple Earth observing spacecraft. The proposed techniques are directly applicable to those missions.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Among non-NASA applications are several current ongoing projects by the military. Department of Defense agencies, including DARPA, are focused on developing the next generation of collaborating and formation flying Unmanned Vehicles (UAVs, USVs, UUVs etc.) which can use the analysis methods and tools developed under this effort for performing trade-off studies for designing distributed multi-agent networks.

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