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30 August 2004 Application of the mini AERCam free flyer for orbital inspection
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Abstract
The Engineering Directorate of NASA Johnson Space Center has developed a nanosatellite-class free-flyer intended for future external inspection and remote viewing of human spacecraft. The Miniature Autonomous Extravehicular Robotic Camera (Mini AERCam) technology demonstration unit has been integrated into the approximate form and function of a flight system. The spherical Mini AERCam free flyer is 7.5 inches in diameter and weighs approximately 10 pounds, yet it incorporates significant additional capabilities compared to the 35 pound, 14 inch AERCam Sprint that flew as a Shuttle flight experiment in 1997. Mini AERCam hosts a full suite of miniaturized avionics, instrumentation, communications, navigation, imaging, power, and propulsion subsystems, including two digital video cameras and a high resolution still image camera. The vehicle is designed for either remotely piloted operations or supervised autonomous operations including automatic stationkeeping and point-to-point maneuvering. Free-flyer testing has been conducted on an air-bearing table and in a six degree-of-freedom closed-loop orbital simulation. This paper describes recent enhancements to the Mini AERCam system aimed at providing a more autonomous system for space inspection, including docking mechanisms and on-board docking navigation for autonomous deployment and retrieval of the free flyer.
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Steven E. Fredrickson, Steve Duran, Nathan Howard, and Jennifer D. Wagenknecht "Application of the mini AERCam free flyer for orbital inspection", Proc. SPIE 5419, Spacecraft Platforms and Infrastructure, (30 August 2004); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.542810
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