5 August 2003 KC-135 zero-G testing of a microsatellite docking mechanism
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Abstract
Michigan Aerospace Corporation has developed a mechanism for microsatellite docking, which has been successfully demonstrated in a microgravity environment. This docking mechanism is specifically designed for soft-docking capability, tolerance to misalignment, and scalability. The current Autonomous Microsatellite Docking System (AMDS) design resulted from modifications to an earlier docking mechanism prototype that was tested at the Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) Flat Floor Facility. The AMDS was tested in a microgravity environment through the NASA JSC Reduced Gravity Program, where a KC-135 turbo jet flies a series of parabolic maneuvers. The test objectives of the KC-135 flight were to determine the docking mechanism cable assembly behavior in zero-g, test the full range of the docking envelope in a six degree of freedom test setup and determine the undocking capability and stability. The nature of the Michigan Aerospace docking mechanism enabled the entire docking cycle, including soft dock, auto-alignment and hard dock, to be completed within the 20 seconds of 'zero-g' time. Complete end-to-end docking and undocking was performed under a variety of initial conditions and docking parameters. The data collected during the KC-135 testing will be used to validate dynamic simulation models of the docking mechanism. The intent of these dynamic models is to examine a number of docking scenarios between a chaser and target satellite. This paper will discuss the results of the KC-135 docking tests and docking simulations.
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Jane C. Pavlich, Jane C. Pavlich, Peter Tchoryk, Peter Tchoryk, Anthony B. Hays, Anthony B. Hays, Gregory Wassick, Gregory Wassick, "KC-135 zero-G testing of a microsatellite docking mechanism", Proc. SPIE 5088, Space Systems Technology and Operations, (5 August 2003); doi: 10.1117/12.497845; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.497845
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