Title: In-flight performance validation of the TanDEM-X autonomous formation flying system

Authors: Jean-Sébastien Ardaens; Ralph Kahle; Daniel Schulze

Addresses: German Aerospace Center (DLR), Muenchner Str. 20, 82234 Wessling, Germany ' German Aerospace Center (DLR), Muenchner Str. 20, 82234 Wessling, Germany ' German Aerospace Center (DLR), Muenchner Str. 20, 82234 Wessling, Germany

Abstract: The in-flight performance validation of the experimental autonomous formation keeping system embarked by the German TanDEM-X formation has been performed during a 12-day-long closed-loop campaign conducted in June 2012. Relative control performance better than 10 m was achieved, demonstrating that a significant gain of performance can be achieved when the control of the formation is done autonomously on-board instead of on-ground. Furthermore, the formation keeping system was shown to be operationally robust, easy to operate and fully predictable, i.e., fully suited for routine mission operations. This campaign concludes successfully a series of validation activities, opening new doors to future innovative scientific TanDEM-X experiments for which enhanced formation control is required.

Keywords: TanDEM-X; TAFF; autonomy; formation keeping; along-track interferometry; in-flight performance validation; autonomous formation flying; satellites; spacecraft formation flying; formation control.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSPACESE.2014.060596

International Journal of Space Science and Engineering, 2014 Vol.2 No.2, pp.157 - 170

Received: 05 Jul 2013
Accepted: 29 Sep 2013

Published online: 22 Apr 2014 *

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