A Spacecraft Position Optimal Tracking (SPOT) program was developed to process Global Positioning System (GPS) data, sent via telemetry from a spacecraft, to generate accurate navigation estimates of the vehicle position and velocity (state vector) using a Kalman filter. This program uses the GPS onboard receiver measurements to sequentially calculate the vehicle state vectors and provide this information to ground flight controllers. It is the first real-time ground-based shuttle navigation application using onboard sensors. The program is compact, portable, self-contained, and can run on a variety of UNIX or Linux computers.
The program has a modular object-oriented design that supports application-specific plugins such as data corruption remediation pre-processing and remote graphics display. The Kalman filter is extensible to additional sensor types or force models. The Kalman filter design is also strong against data dropouts because it uses physical models from state and covariance propagation in the absence of data.
The design of this program separates the functionalities of SPOT into six different executable processes. This allows for the individual processes to be connected in an a la carte manner, making the feature set and executable complexity of SPOT adaptable to the needs of the user. Also, these processes need not be executed on the same workstation. This allows for communications between SPOT processes executing on the same Local Area Network (LAN). Thus, SPOT can be executed in a distributed sense with the capability for a team of flight controllers to efficiently share the same trajectory information currently being computed by the program.
SPOT is used in the Mission Control Center (MCC) for Space Shuttle Program (SSP) and International Space Station Program (ISSP) operations, and can also be used as a post-flight analysis tool. It is primarily used for situational awareness, and for contingency situations.
This work was done by Jason T. Smith of Johnson Space Center and Sam J. Welsh, Antonio L. Farinetti, Tim Wegner, James Blakeslee, Toni F. Deboeck, Daniel Dyer, Bryan M. Corley, Jarmaine Ollivierre, Leonard Kramer, Patrick L. Zimmerman, and Reshma Khatri of United Space Alliance. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Software category. MSC-24482-1