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Maneuver Characteristics of Autonomous Non-Cooperative Spacecraft

Award Information
Agency: National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Branch: N/A
Contract: 80NSSC20C0392
Agency Tracking Number: 205963
Amount: $119,680.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Solicitation Topic Code: H9
Solicitation Number: SBIR_20_P1
Solicitation Year: 2020
Award Year: 2020
Award Start Date (Proposal Award Date): 2020-08-31
Award End Date (Contract End Date): 2021-03-01
Small Business Information
7051 Muirkirk Meadows Drive, Suite A
Beltsville, MD 20705-6342
United States
DUNS: 108990649
HUBZone Owned: No
Woman Owned: No
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: No
Principal Investigator
 Karen Thomson
 (301) 474-1700
Business Contact
 Bryan Larsen
Title: blar1117
Phone: (301) 474-1700
Research Institution

SpaceX has launched several hundred of a planned constellation of several thousand Starlink satellites into nominal 550 km altitude circular orbits.nbsp; The Starlink spacecraft reportedly operate largely autonomously, to include maneuvering to avoid collisions with other spacecraft and debris.nbsp; Collision avoidance maneuvers are not published and may not be known even to Starlink until after they occur.nbsp; Starlink operational parameters and concept of operations (ConOps) are only partly known to 18 SPCS and CARA.nbsp; The Starlink constellation is therefore comprised of autonomous, non-cooperative spacecraft.nbsp; The native 18 SPCS OD and O/O ephemeris are unreliable means of predicting future Starlink spacecraft positions necessary for Conjunction Assessment (CA).nbsp; More concerning is that the O/O ephemeris is used for CA screening and the results are published to Starlink for use in determining avoidance maneuvers.nbsp; CARA must therefore rely entirely on Starlink spacecraft to maneuver to avoid potential collisions with CARA-protected payloads while having no knowledge of the characteristics of such maneuvers or the underlying methodology used in their planning and execution.nbsp;nbsp; Research is therefore proposed to characterize the maneuver behavior of autonomous, non-cooperative spacecraft in response to predicted CA data by analyzing historical data using machine learning and traditional analysis techniques.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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