NASA SBIR 2008 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 08-2 S2.01-8499
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Precision Spacecraft Formations for Telescope Systems
PROPOSAL TITLE: Topology Control Algorithms for Spacecraft Formation Flying Networks Under 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)
Nima Moshtagh
500 West Cummings Park, Suite 3000
Woburn, MA 01801 - 6562
(781) 933-5355

Expected Technology Readiness Level (TRL) upon completion of contract: 6

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
SSCI is proposing to develop, test and deliver a set of topology control algorithms and software 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 global properties such as the network connectivity for formation flying.

Phase I effort resulted in the development of a unified framework for the design and analysis of many topology control problems associated with formation flying spacecraft. A novel game-theoretic approach to network topology control was successfully applied to key trajectory design problems such as formation initialization and reconfiguration in the presence of local and global constraints.

Phase II effort will deliver a complete set of algorithms and software tools to help the NASA TPF-I team plan and evaluate missions for candidate TPF-I architectures. In order to achieve these objectives, we plan to carry out the following tasks:

(i) Further refinements and testing of the game-theoretic approach to state-dependent network synthesis problems and trajectory-following in the absence of centralization,
(ii) Development and testing of convex parameterization of path-planning problems for multiple spacecraft formations,
(iii) Demonstration of the application of the developed novel methods to TPF-I baseline mission.

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)
(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 designing and implementing distributed multi-agent networks of unmanned vehicles.

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.

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