An enhanced version of the scheme reported in “Pseudo-Waypoint Guidance for Proximity Spacecraft Maneuvers” (NPO-42753), NASA Tech Briefs, Vol. 31, No. 6 (June 2007), page 73 was developed. To recapitulate: the scheme provides algorithms for guidance and control (G&C) of a spacecraft maneuvering near a small astronomical body. The open-loop guidance problem is solved in advance or in real time by use of the pseudo-waypoint generation (PWG) method. Feedback control is implemented to track PWG trajectories, in a manner that enables updating of G&C in a model-predictive manner. The scheme includes silent periods following each thruster firing.

The original version of the scheme provides for a fire-first, followed-by-silence sequence, which is disadvantageous in that the silence after final firing precludes reduction of any remaining velocity error — an unacceptable result in the case of a maneuver for which a specific final velocity is required. In the enhanced version, the scheme is augmented with a fire-second technique, so that the final velocity can be established with a much higher precision because both the guidance and feedback firing can be performed and ceased at the final maneuver time.

This work was done by John Carson and Behçet Açikmese of Caltech for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The software used in this innovation is available for commercial licensing. Please contact Karina Edmonds of the California Institute of Technology at (626) 395-2322. Refer to NPO-44276.

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the November, 2008 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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