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Title:Development of miniature robotic arm manipulators to enable smallsat clusters
Author(s):Wenger, Thibaut
Advisor(s):Ho, Koki
Department / Program:Aerospace Engineering
Discipline:Aerospace Engineering
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Formation flying
In-space assembly
Cluster control
Abstract:The performances of monolithic spacecraft are limited by their size, mass and cost. For example, the sizes of a communication satellite antenna or of a space telescope primary mirror directly impact their performances. In-space assembly and formation flying missions are the logical responses to this issue. Instead of limited dedicated launches, several small satellites can be piggybacked as secondary payload and work together to accomplish the same mission. Therefore, this concept reduces the cost but also removes the limit of size and mass since more spacecraft can always be added to the formation while increasing robustness (the independent spacecraft are replaceable) and modularity (the reconfiguration of the formation can lead to different outcomes). This research is the result of a collaboration between the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign (UIUC). It presents the development of an integrated, robust and optimized method to enable scalable small satellites clusters via Clusters Forming On-Board Robotic Manipulators (C-FORM). The physical connection removes the constraint of highly sophisticated control for collision avoidance, the main obstacle of formation flying missions. After the deployment phase, pairs of satellites will sequentially rendezvous, deploy their miniature robotic arms and dock with the help of their end effectors. The dockings will be repeated until the formation is formed. JPL developed and designed both the robotic arms and the end effectors. Under the requirements of the mission, the components were selected for the satellite bus. A simulation was developed in order to model the dynamics of the spacecraft under realistic sensors and actuators to validate the feasibility of this concept. Finally, a quantitative estimation of the amount of fuel the robotic arms can save for formation flying purposes was carried out.
Issue Date:2017-04-28
Rights Information:Copyright 2017 Thibaut Wenger
Date Available in IDEALS:2017-08-10
Date Deposited:2017-05

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