CubeSat autonomous rendezvous and docking software
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An autonomous mission manager is being developed for use on CubeSats to perform proximity operations with other vehicles. The mission manager software is designed to run in real-time on a microprocessor used on a CubeSat. A simulation tool was developed that provides orbital dynamics and sensor measurements to test the mission manager software. A scenario was developed to demonstrate the control of a spacecraft from 1 km to 1 m to a target vehicle. Two small satellites were simulated in near-circular orbits around Earth at an approximate 400 km altitude. Each satellite is incorporated with simulated sensors and a Kalman filter. The simulation tool includes models for accelerometers and Global Positioning System receivers. Noise corruption is added to the modeled sensors to simulate imperfect knowledge. The simulation environment is capable of modeling Earth as a spherical or non-spherical body with spherical gravitational harmonics. Simulation parameters, such as the vehicle's initial states, Earth gravity model, and sensor noise are easily changed without recompiling the program through a simulation input file.