SUMO/FREND is a risk reduction program for an advanced servicing spacecraft sponsored by DARPA and executed by
the Naval Center for Space Technology at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. The overall program will
demonstrate the integration of many techniques needed in order to autonomously rendezvous and capture customer
satellites at geosynchronous orbits. A flight-qualifiable payload is currently under development to prove out challenging
aspects of the mission. The grappling process presents computer vision challenges to properly identify and guide the
final step in joining the pursuer craft to the customer. This paper will provide an overview of the current status of the
project with an emphasis on the challenges, techniques, and directions of the machine vision processes to guide the
SUMO, the Spacecraft for the Universal Modification of Orbits, is a DARPA-sponsored spacecraft designed to provide orbital repositioning services to geosynchronous satellites. Such services may be needed to facilitate changing the geostationary slot of a satellite, to allow a satellite to be used until the propellant is expended instead of reserving propellant for a retirement burn, or to rescue a satellite stranded in geosynchronous transfer orbit due to a launch failure. Notably, SUMO is being designed to be compatible with the current geosynchronous satellite catalog, which implies that it does not require the customer spacecraft to have special docking fixtures, optical guides, or cooperative communications or pose sensors. In addition, the final approach and grapple will be performed autonomously. SUMO is being designed and built by the Naval Center for Space Technology, a division of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. The nature of the SUMO concept mission leads to significant challenges in onboard spacecraft autonomy. Also, because research and development in machine vision, trajectory planning, and automation algorithms for SUMO is being pursued in parallel with flight software development, there are considerable challenges in prototyping and testing algorithms in situ and in transitioning these algorithms from laboratory form into software suitable for flight. This paper discusses these challenges, outlining the current SUMO design from the standpoint of flight algorithms and software. In particular, the design of the SUMO phase 1 laboratory demonstration software is described in detail. The proposed flight-like software architecture is also described.
SUMO, or Spacecraft for the Universal Modification of Orbits, is a risk reduction program for an advanced servicing spacecraft sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and executed by the Naval Center for Space Technology at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, DC. The purpose of the program is to demonstrate the integration of machine vision, robotics, mechanisms, and autonomous control algorithms to accomplish autonomous rendezvous and grapple of a variety of interfaces traceable to future spacecraft servicing operations. The laboratory demonstration is being implemented in NRL’s Proximity Operations Test Facility, which provides precise six degree of freedom motion control for both the servicer and customer spacecraft platforms. This paper will describe the conceptual design of the SUMO advanced servicing spacecraft, a concept for a near term low-cost flight demonstration, as well as plans and status for the laboratory demonstration. In addition, component requirements for the various spacecraft subsystems will be discussed.