Tech Briefs

Six Degrees-of-Freedom Ascent Control for Small-Body Touch and Go

A document discusses a method of controlling touch and go (TAG) of a spacecraft to correct attitude, while ensuring a safe ascent. TAG is a concept whereby a spacecraft is in contact with the surface of a small body, such as a comet or asteroid, for a few seconds or less before ascending to a safe location away from the small body.

The report describes a controller that corrects attitude and ensures that the spacecraft ascends to a safe state as quickly as possible. The approach allocates a certain amount of control authority to attitude control, and uses the rest to accelerate the spacecraft as quickly as possible in the ascent direction. The relative allocation to attitude and position is a parameter whose optimal value is determined using a ground software tool.

This new approach makes use of the full control authority of the spacecraft to correct the errors imparted by the contact, and ascend as quickly as possible. This is in contrast to prior approaches, which do not optimize the ascent acceleration.

This work was done by Lars James C. Blackmore of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. NPO-47192

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