A Reconfigurable, Decentralized Framework for Formation Flying Control
The paradigm shift of using a multiple-satellite cluster rather than a large, monolithic spacecraft has been fueled by the objectives of increased robustness, greater flexibility, and reduced cost. It should be understood, however, that these objectives are not automatically met. The operational costs of monitoring and commanding a large fleet of close-orbiting satellites is likely to be unreasonable unless the onboard software is sufficiently autonomous, robust, and reconfigurable. A decentralized, agent-based guidance and control system has been designed in Phase I to help meet these challenging software requirements. The proposed concept is a decentralized guidance and control system, organized in a multiple-team framework, and implemented within the Princeton Satellite Systems? (PSS) ObjectAgent? architecture. In the ObjectAgent architecture, Agents may be remotely added, removed or replaced post-launch to increase mission flexibility and robustness. This level of reconfigurability exceeds the state-of-the-art in traditional flight software. The reconfigurable, decentralized system will enable the number of spacecraft in the cluster to change post-launch, will be capable of supporting clusters with large numbers of satellites, and will allow significant software modifications to be made on-orbit in a robust manner.
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