I-HAMMER: Interactive Autonomy for Control of Space Assets

Period of Performance: 08/01/2012 - 05/01/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Traclabs, Inc.
100 North East Loop 410, Suite 520
San Antonio, TX 78216
Principal Investigator


ABSTRACT: The United States is increasingly reliant on space-based technologies for surveillance, communications, and navigation. However, our satellites face significant threats from external forces as well as the usual threats from failures, space weather, and orbital debris and must become more survivable. On-board satellite autonomy has been shown in several flight demonstrations to provide the ability to address these issues. Our approach leverages several decades of NASA and DOD research into autonomous systems. It includes a Mission Planner that takes as its input the current state of the satellite, the list of target observations and downlinks, and models of the available satellite activities and generates an ordered list of interdependent satellite actions with execution time windows. This is integrated with a Threat Response Planner that ensures that both the mission and the satellite are safe from failure and are responsive to opportunities. Taken together these components provide significant autonomous capability to the satellite. BENEFIT: The number of military satellites is growing quickly and they are critical to almost all military operations. The cost of operations of these satellites is also growing. Autonomy can reduce these operational costs if deployed progressively and if it is trusted. Military satellites also face increasing threats from space debris, enemy actions, and internal faults. Our system helps to mitigate those threats and allow for continued operation. Commercial satellites can also benefit from this technology once it has been proven by the DOD. NASA satellites and missions face demands for autonomy due to their distance from the Earth. We anticipate NASA uses for this technology as well.