SCOUT Inc., has been selected for a NASA SBIR award to make relative navigation more resilient and enable more autonomous rendezvous, proximity operations, and docking. This effort is expected to yield advancements in autonomy and resilience across a wide range of NASA applications which often require exhaustive pre-planning and manual operations of multi-satellite systems.
SCOUT’s fault-tolerant and robust 6-degree-of-freedom finite-time controllers integrate multiple control system inputs and data sources, such as SCOUT-Vision remote sensing systems, to facilitate faster, more accurate tracking performance and more efficient control energy consumption during proximity operations than conventional controller modes in the presence of real-world challenges such as actuator faults, parametric uncertainty, and unknown external disturbances.
“Autonomous relative navigation is a key-enabling technology for myriad space missions: space debris management, supplying the International Space Station, conducting on-orbit satellite maintenance and assembly, and inter-satellite networking. More persistent, robust, fault-resilient relative navigation integrating precise, remote state and attitude estimation is a game-changer,” stated Sergio Gallucci, Co-founder and CTO of SCOUT. “We’re excited to have NASA’s support; this award will enable allocation of additional resources to crucial real-time navigation systems to support our mission.”
“RPO and science mission planning is time-consuming and scheduling-intensive with lacking real-time data: proximity operations are highly prone to abort maneuvers due to state measurement deviation or false-positive conjunction data messages,” added Dr. Daero Lee, Senior Guidance, Navigation, and Control Engineer at SCOUT. “We’re developing real-time orbit determination systems that integrate onboard GPS signal measurement and analysis to achieve more persistent navigation.“
The commercial space industry is a significant potential non-NASA beneficiary of this research and development. Orbital servicing and logistics end-users lack closed-loop, persistent, robust control for rendezvous and proximity operations: this has led to SCOUT’s onboard navigation capabilities being adopted by Orbit Fab, Momentus, and are being considered by several additional commercial and Defense users.
Since June of 2021, SCOUT has been successfully operating in space, following the launch of their SCOUT-Vision proximity operation system. Earlier this year, SCOUT announced its Autonomy Software for spacecraft, which includes computer vision and guidance software to make navigation safer and less complex for space operators.