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Proceedings Paper

Rendezvous lidar sensor system for terminal rendezvous, capture, and berthing to the International Space Station
Author(s): Andrew C. M. Allen; Christopher Langley; Raja Mukherji; Allen B. Taylor; Manickam Umasuthan; Timothy D. Barfoot
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Paper Abstract

The Rendezvous Lidar System (RLS), a high-performance scanning time-of-flight lidar jointly developed by MDA and Optech, was employed successfully during the XSS-11 spacecraft's 23-month mission. Ongoing development of the RLS mission software has resulted in an integrated pose functionality suited to safety-critical applications, specifically the terminal rendezvous of a visiting vehicle with the International Space Station (ISS). This integrated pose capability extends the contribution of the lidar from long-range acquisition and tracking for terminal rendezvous through to final alignment for docking or berthing. Innovative aspects of the technology that were developed include: 1) efficacious algorithms to detect, recognize, and compute the pose of a client spacecraft from a single scan using an intelligent search of candidate solutions, 2) automatic scene evaluation and feature selection algorithms and software that assist mission planners in specifying accurate and robust scan scheduling, and 3) optimal pose tracking functionality using knowledge of the relative spacecraft states. The development process incorporated the concept of sensor system bandwidth to address the sometimes unclear or misleading specifications of update rate and measurement delay often cited for rendezvous sensors. Because relative navigation sensors provide the measured feedback to the spacecraft GN&C, we propose a new method of specifying the performance of these sensors to better enable a full assessment of a given sensor in the closed-loop control for any given vehicle. This approach, and the tools and methods enabling it, permitted a rapid and rigorous development and verification of the pose tracking functionality. The complete system was then integrated and demonstrated in the MDA space vision facility using the flight-representative engineering model RLS lidar sensor.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 April 2008
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 6958, Sensors and Systems for Space Applications II, 69580S (15 April 2008); doi: 10.1117/12.777208
Show Author Affiliations
Andrew C. M. Allen, MDA Space Missions (Canada)
Christopher Langley, MDA Space Missions (Canada)
Raja Mukherji, MDA Space Missions (Canada)
Allen B. Taylor, MDA Space Missions (Canada)
Manickam Umasuthan, MDA Space Missions (Canada)
Timothy D. Barfoot, Univ. of Toronto (Canada)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6958:
Sensors and Systems for Space Applications II
Richard T. Howard; Pejmun Motaghedi, Editor(s)

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