ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
GNC Design for Rendezvous Autonomous Cubesats Experiment (RACE) Mission
The design presented in this paper is a part of ESA?s RACE (Rendezvous Autonomous CubeSats Experiment) mission that expands state of the art for small platforms in terms of GNC autonomy. Two 6-unit CubeSats equipped with comprehensive set of sensors and actuators are due to accomplish two baseline proximity operations. The mission covers two main experiments: cooperative Rendezvous and Docking (RVD) and uncooperative Close Fly-Around (CFA). Due to the nature of these experiments, different challenges are posed in the design of each one. The GNC consists of separate modes to perform the tasks efficiently and safely. Both RVD and CFA implementations take advantage of visual navigation and robust control synthesis. The design was proven in large Monte Carlo campaign, Software-in the-loop and Hardware-in-the-loop tests. In the latter a robotic testbed were used along with cameras, LED patterns and a 3D printed mock-up.