Development of Satellite Formation Flying Technology and a Neutral Buoyancy Testbed

Dr. Christopher Kitts
Robotic Systems Laboratory, Santa Clara University
Phone: (408) 554-4382

Santa Clara University’s Robotic Systems Lab proposes to extend its existing multi-robot formation control technique, known as Cluster Space Control, for clusters of small spacecraft. This technique, which has previously been tested with land/sea/air robots, will be adapted to 6 degree-of-freedom vehicles, verified via simulation, and integrated into a new ground-based “neutral buoyancy” 4 DOF testbed that capitalizes on the program’s expertise in underwater robots. This work will prepare the research team for an ultimate demonstration of the formation control technique on the SPHERES satellite formation flying testbed, housed on the International Space Station. The proposed program is an outstanding example of a new initiative to be seeded by California Space Grant, that leverages significant matching funds, that spans disciplines, that combines both undergraduates and graduate students in a unified research and design team, and builds strong ties with NASA Ames Research Center.