Robotics Rendezvous & Capture Test Facility "Inveritas"
Jan Paul, Frank Kirchner, Ingo Ahrns, J. Sommer
In Proceedings of the International Symposium on Artificial Intelligence, Robotics and Automation in Space (i-SAIRAS 2014), (iSAIRAS-2014), 17.6.-19.6.2014, Montreal, o.A., Jun/2014.
Space debris is an increasing threat for manned and unmanned space flight. As a result, de-orbiting existing space debris or preventing still operational satellites from becoming space debris are important future tasks for ensuring the safety of space missions. Most possible missions with these goals have a rendezvous and capturing phase between a target object and a Servicer satellite in common. Possible target objects can range from cooperative satellites (e.g. equipped with optical markers) to space debris of unknown shape. Developing and testing semi-autonomous Servicer satellites for such missions needs test facilities capable of including as much of the real hardware as possible into a mission simulation as "Hardware in the Loop" (HIL). Only this way the real sensor setups can be tested on earth under realistic lighting conditions and with realistic sensor data acquired from realistic target object materials. This sensor data can be transferred back into the simulation in real-time, so that the autonomous behaviors of the Servicer can be tested in "closed loop".