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Using Industrial Robots for Hardware-in-the-Loop Simulation of Spacecraft Rendezvous and Docking

[+] Author Affiliations
Ou Ma, Angel Flores-Abad

New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM

Toralf Boge

German Aerospace Center (DLR), Wessling, Germany

Paper No. DETC2012-70917, pp. 1059-1066; 8 pages
  • ASME 2012 International Design Engineering Technical Conferences and Computers and Information in Engineering Conference
  • Volume 4: 36th Mechanisms and Robotics Conference, Parts A and B
  • Chicago, Illinois, USA, August 12–15, 2012
  • Conference Sponsors: Design Engineering Division, Computers and Information in Engineering Division
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4503-5
  • Copyright © 2012 by ASME


One of the most challenging and risky operations for spacecraft is to perform proximity Rendezvous and Docking (R&D) autonomously in space. To ensure a safe and reliable operation, such a mission must be carefully designed and thoroughly verified before a real space mission can be launched. This paper describes the control strategy for achieving high fidelity contact dynamics simulation of a new, robotics-based, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL) R&D simulation facility which uses two industrial robots to simulate the 6-DOF dynamic maneuvering of the two docking satellites. The facility is capable of physically simulating the final approaching within a 25-meter range and the entire docking or capturing process in a satellite on-orbit servicing mission. The paper discusses the difficulties of using industrial robots for HIL contact dynamics simulation and the proposed robot control strategy for dealing with these difficulties.

Copyright © 2012 by ASME



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