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Proceedings Paper

Laser Docking System Radar Flight Experiment
Author(s): Harry O Erwin
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Paper Abstract

The Tracking Techniques Branch of the Johnson Space Center has had a five-year effort to develop advanced rendezvous, stationkeeping, docking, and robotic tracking sensors. This effort was in response to an identified NASA need for a development program to address the long term tracking needs of Shuttle, Space Station, Manned Maneuvering Units, Orbital Transfer Vehicles, Orbital Maneuvering Vehicles, Tethered Satellites, Satellite Servicing, and other free flying experiments and payloads. One result of this effort at JSC has been the design, development, and breadboarding of a laboratory model of a Laser Docking System Radar. This system uses a solid-state laser to measure target position and attitude for a large variety of vehicles and payloads. This laboratory prototype has been software modeled and used in an active simulation to verify performance. Also, hardware testing is in progress on the laboratory model in the tracking test bed at NASA JSC. The next step in the verification of the Laser Docking System Radar is its use in flight experiments aboard the Orbiter. Experiments are planned which will allow flight experience to be gained for the Laser Docking System Radar with minimum impact to the Orbiter. The Radar would be mounted in the payload bay of the Orbiter in a location which would allow a view of the -Z docking axis. A Grid Computer would be used inside the cabin to provide control to and display data from the radar. The connection between the radar and the Grid will be a fiber optics link that looks through a very small part of the aft Orbiter window. This method will eliminate the need for complex Orbiter interfaces or modifications. The Laser Docking System Radar will be manifested as a piggyback experiment on normal retrieval missions. The Radar will operate in a data taking and displaying mode while the crew carries out manual stationkeeping and docking maneuvers. The data from the flight experiments will then be used to design an operational sensor that is small, lightweight, and capable of meeting the long term tracking needs of NASA and industry in rendezvous stationkeeping, docking, berthing, and robotic control.

Paper Details

Date Published: 6 October 1986
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 0663, Laser Radar Technology and Applications I, (6 October 1986); doi: 10.1117/12.938662
Show Author Affiliations
Harry O Erwin, NASA Johnson Space Center (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0663:
Laser Radar Technology and Applications I
James M. Cruickshank; Robert C. Harney, Editor(s)

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