A Reconfigurable, Decentralized Framework for Formation Flying Control

Period of Performance: 01/01/2003 - 12/31/2003


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Princeton Satellite Systems
6 Market St. Suite 926
Plainsboro, NJ 08536
Principal Investigator
Firm POC


The paradigm shift of using multiple-satellite clusters to replace large, monolithic spacecraft has been fueled by the objectives of increased robustness, greater flexibility, and reduced cost. It is our belief, however, that these objectives are not automatically met. The operational costs of monitoring and commanding a large fleet of close-orbiting satellites is likely to be unreasonable, unless the onboard software is sufficiently autonomous, robust, and reconfigurable. The decentralized agent framework that we propose here will meet these requirements.This proposal is for a novel formation flying control system with a reconfigurable and decentralized framework. The relative orbit determination and control system is organized as a modular network of software agents, which may be adapted and evolved throughout the mission. The computational load for both orbit determination and maneuver planning is distributed equally, decreasing the chances for single-point failures and allowing for greater extensability. The control system will run within the Princeton Satellite Systems?ObjectAgenta architecture. Agents may be added, removed or replaced post-launch to increase mission flexibility and robustness. This level of reconfigurability exceeds the state-of-the-art in traditional flight software. Additionally, the decentralized nature of the design enables the number of satellites to change post-launch, and can seamlessly support large clusters.