Title: Validation of satellite docking simulations using an air-bearing-based experimental testbed

Authors: George Yang; Ou Ma

Addresses: MDA Space Missions, 9445 Airport Rd., Brampton, Ontario, L6S 3J4, Canada ' Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, 88003-8001, USA

Abstract: It is difficult to verify full 6-DOF dynamic performance of some challenging tasks of a large and complex space robotic system such as a satellite docking/capturing mechanism at system level on the ground because of gravity and other effects. As a result, such system-level verification is usually done mainly by high-fidelity computer simulations. Obviously, a simulation software tool for system verification has to be rigorously validated. This paper describes a project aimed at experimental validation of a generic contact-dynamics toolkit in a Simulink-based satellite docking simulator. The simulation software was developed to support the design and verification of satellite on-orbit robotic servicing systems. The hardware experiment was performed using an air-bearing supported docking testbed specially designed for testing the operations of different docking and capture mechanisms. The simulation results compared favourably with the measured experimental data, which demonstrated the validity of the simulation tool and thus, increased the confidence of using the simulation tool for the design and study of space robotic systems for future robotics-based satellite on-orbit servicing missions.

Keywords: satellite rendezvous; satellite docking; air bearings; validation; satellite on-orbit service; contact dynamics; simulation; space robotics; system verification; on-orbit robotic servicing; satellite capture.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2013.058845

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2013 Vol.1 No.3, pp.253 - 267

Received: 04 Apr 2013
Accepted: 16 May 2013

Published online: 24 Jan 2014 *

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