For over a decade, Emergent Space Technologies has been supporting NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center to realize its vision for the autonomous rendezvous and docking with an uncooperative vehicle. From the early experiments on the Hubble Space Telescope Servicing Missions, through work with the RAVEN payload experiment on the International Space Station, Emergent has played a role in developing the enabling technologies required for mission success. The ultimate test of these developments will come nominally in 2024 with the launch of the OSAM-1 vehicle (formerly Restore-L), which will autonomously service the legacy Landsat 7 satellite. Short for On-orbit Servicing, Assembly, and Manufacturing 1, OSAM-1 is a robotic spacecraft equipped with the tools, technologies and techniques needed to extend a satellite’s lifespan - even if it is not designed to be serviced on-orbit. During its mission, the OSAM-1 servicer will rendezvous with, grasp, refuel Landsat 7 and re-locate it to a higher orbit to extend its life. Emergent engineers play a significant role on the OSAM-1 team, providing support for the HI-FI OSAM-1 simulation development and serving as the lead for the servicing payload flight software development team. Dr. Barrett Dillow, an Emergent Aerospace Engineer, has worked for several years building and refining everything from the vision navigation system to the mission thruster mapping algorithms. According to Dr. Dillow, “Balancing the many competing requirements for rendezvous proximity operations (RPO) sensor placement throughout mission phases and for multiple approaches is a huge hurdle, but effective solutions can be found with a powerful HI-FI simulation tool like we have for this project”.
Teammate Dr. Bill Bamford has been supporting the far field navigation and sensor fusion into the Global Positioning System (GPS) Enhanced Onboard Navigation System (GEONS) Extended Kalman filter. Dr. Bamford said, “Combining GPS, multiple vision sensors, and Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) measurements into the filter is challenging, but ensuring the filter works if any of these sensors fail is the tough part.” The servicing payload team is rapidly closing in on the completion of HI-FI simulation environment and is eager to begin testing the effectiveness of their system design. “OSAM is critical for the in-space assembly, deployment and sustainment of space structures that are too large to fit within the payload fairings of the currently available rockets, including large telescopes and apertures and deep space exploration vehicles”, said Dr. George Davis, Emergent CEO. “It will accelerate the commercialization of space in low Earth orbit and help expand the reach of human exploration of the Moon. We are proud to be a part of NASA’s OSAM team and look forward to a successful mission in 2024.”