MPC for bearings-only rendezvous

Tags: Aerospace

Together with European partners GMV and Cosine, ODYS has carried out the GUIBEAR project (2019-2021), an activity supported by the European Space Agency and overseen by ESTEC.

The GUIBEAR project aims at demonstrating the feasibility of bearings-only far-range rendezvous to near rectilinear Halo Orbits (NROs). Bearings-only rendezvous is an orbital maneuver that consists in approaching a target (in the considered scenario, the Lunar Orbital Platform – Gateway) relying only on angular measurements to such target and using knowledge of the maneuvers previously performed in order to estimate the distance to the target.

This technique has the potential to significantly cut mission costs by increasing autonomy and reducing requirements for exploration missions such as HERACLES. In fact, angular measurements can be obtained with an optical camera that has significantly lower mass and power requirements with respect to range sensors.

GUIBEAR has addressed this challenge by developing automatic control tools based on Model Predictive Control, to perform the rendezvous autonomously while also preserving the observability of the planned trajectory.