Control Strategies for Reactionless Capture of an Orbiting Object using a Satellite Mounted Robot

A. Gattupalli    S. V. Shah    K. M. Krishna    A. K. Misra   

IIIT Hyderabad, India    Mechanical Engineering Department, McGill University, Montreal, Canada   

This paper presents a method to capture orbiting objects using a robotic system mounted on a service satellite. The main objective is to manipulate the robot such that no reaction moment gets transferred to the base satellite. This will avoid use of any attitude controller resulting in fuel savings. Note that the constraints leading to zero reaction moment are nonholonomic, and this makes path planning a complex problem. In this work, first a method based on holonomic distribution of the nonholonomic constraints is discussed. As this method exploits constraints in terms of joint velocities, it does not always ensure successful capture. Next, a method based on task-level constraints, written in terms of end-effector’s velocities, has been illustrated. It is shown that the path planned using this method has several singular points. In order to overcome disadvantages of the above two methods a novel approach is proposed which uses holonomic distribution to reach closer to the target and task-level constraints to finally capture the target. Efficacy of the method is shown using a 3-link robot mounted on a service satellite.