DOI: 10.3390/aerospace11030224 ISSN: 2226-4310

Guidance and Control for Safe Contactless Plume Impingement Operations to Detumble an Uncooperative Spacecraft

Giacomo Borelli, Gabriella Gaias, Camilla Colombo
  • Aerospace Engineering

In recent years, the interest in proximity operations to uncooperative and non-collaborative objects has been growing and and demanding for specific technology advances to tackle these challenging cases of in-orbit servicing and removal missions. Indeed, these architectures hold a crucial role in guaranteeing future sustainable and efficient space operations. One of the main challenges of conducting robotic operations with a chaser in close proximity to an uncooperative object stems from its rotational motion. A tumbling motion of a large target object may require a costly and complex synchronisation of the servicer relative trajectory to the capture point and hinder the safety of operations due to rotating appendages. In this paper, the plume impingement strategy is employed to control the target’s tumbling motion in a contactless fashion, thus guaranteeing feasible approach and capture operations. Specifically, guidance and control strategies to be employed during this delicate and complex operation are devised, focusing on improving the safety of the trajectory while maximising the efficiency of the impingement effect during proximity flight. Simulations discuss the detumbling of a satellite of a large constellation, critically comparing delta-v cost, trajectory safety and overall time of operations.

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