ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository

6DOF Experimental Platform for Testing Autonomous Satellites Operations
Gallardo, D. ; Bevilacqua, R.
Presented at:
Karlovy Vary 2011
Full paper:

This paper presents recent developments in designing and operating a novel 6 degrees of freedom (DOF) experimental testbed for validation of guidance, navigation and control algorithms for nano-satellites. The main catalyst for this research is the desire to experimentally test these algorithms in a 1g laboratory environment, in order to increase system reliability while reducing time-to-launch and development costs. The system stands out among the existing experimental platforms because all degrees of freedom of motion are dynamically reproduced. The majority of the existing platforms guarantee at the most 5 DOF force-free motion, excluding the vertical motion. The sixth DOF, when considered, is reproduced only from a kinematic point of view, by using an electrical motor. The presented testbed achieves 6 DOF dynamical motion by using 3 sets of air bearings: planar motion of the platform over an epoxy floor will be achieved by using a system of linear air bearings; a mass balancing system, based on air bearing pulleys, will guarantee the gravity-free vertical motion, while a spherical air bearing will provide the additional 3 rotational DOF. The testbed directly addresses the challenges of near gravity-free vertical translation in a 1g field using a unique counterbalancing system.