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ISPDI 2013

Yongchun Xie (China Academy of Space Technology, China)

Automatic and Manual Rendezvous and Docking
Yongchun Xie
China Academy of Space Technology,China

Rendezvous and docking (RVD) is a vital technology to complete various space missions, which involves two spacecrafts, usually referred to a target spacecraft and a chaser spacecraft. The guidance, navigation, and control (GNC) system of the chaser spacecraft plays an extremely important role for the success of RVD.
In this paper the development history of RVD by some typical successful RVD missions in the world including American, Russian/Soviet, ESA, Japanese and Chinese RVD Missions will be first reviewed. Then the process of RVD which is generally divided into five phases will be introduced, i.e., remote guidance phase, homing phase, closing phase, and final approach phase. In the remote guidance phase, both the orbits of the target and the chaser are measured and determined on the ground. And under the ground guidance, several orbital maneuvers of the chaser are performed, which bring the chaser to the range where the relative navigation sensors onboard the chaser can provide effective measurement data. After that, the homing phase goes into operation. In this phase (as well as the subsequent ones before the phase of docking), the relative position and velocity between the target and the chaser are obtained by the relative navigation sensors. Based on the information obtained by the sensors, a series of suitable velocity increments are calculated and executed automatically by the chaser GNC system, at the suitable time. At the end of the homing phase, the chaser enters the coplanar orbit whose height is the same as that of the target, but it is still at several kilometers behind the target. The completion of the homing phase is then followed by the closing phase, and the range from the chaser to the target is reduced further until the conditions allowing the acquisition of the final approach corridor are satisfied. Then the final approach phase begins and the chaser motions along the final approach corridor until it achieves docking with the target. The tasks of this phase can either be accomplished by the automatic control system or by the manual measurement and control system.
Next, the major components of the GNC system for automatic RVD including sensors, actuators and controller will be demonstrated in this paper. Also, the major components of the manual measurement and control system for manual RVD will be explained.
In order to answer how the GNC system for automatic RVD works, the navigation, guidance, and control for RVD will be discussed separately. Regarding navigation, we will introduce the function and the components of a typical navigation system as well as the relative navigation algorithm. There are several kinds of relative navigation sensors such as RGPS, microwave radar, laser radar and camera-typed RVD sensor. Here, in this paper we will mainly focus on the optical sensors (e.g., laser radar and camera-typed rendezvous sensor). The points that we will cover include the requirements, principles, algorithms, advantages, and disadvantages associated with a specific sensor. For the guidance, the function of a guidance system and several typical rendezvous guidance strategies are introduced. As for the control, the function of a control system, the related problems and the effective control methods are also presented in this paper.
Some people are particularly interested in the manual control for RVD and want to have a try by themselves. For this reason, we will also discuss how the manual measurement and control system works. A brief introduction of video cameras and how to operate the chaser according to the pictures of the video camera are also presented.
Although this paper mainly focuses on describing the guidance, navigation, and control technologies for RVD, the applications and technology of the sensors in this paper will promote the development of new optical sensors.

Brief Biography:
Yongchun Xie graduated from the Department of Electronic Engineering of Tsinghua University in 1989, and received the master degree and Ph. D. degree in automatic control theory and application from China Academy of Space Technology, respectively, in 1991 and 1994. She was a Center of Excellence foreign researcher from 1998 to 1999 in Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science. She is currently Vice Director of science and technology committee of Beijing Institute of Control Engineering and senior chief researcher of China Academy of Space Technology.
Professor Yongchun Xie has long been engaged in the study of characteristic model based adaptive control method. In theory she first proved the robust stability of the golden section adaptive controller and broke through the challenge in showing the robustness of all-coefficient adaptive control method. In practical engineering, she presented the detailed control scheme of rendezvous and docking for Shenzhou spacecraft, including a new characteristic model based phase plane adaptive control method, which has been successfully applied to the rendezvous and docking tasks of Shenzhou-8, Shenzhou-9 and Shenzhou-10 with Tiangong-1. She has coauthored one book and authored/coauthored more than one hundred papers. She has won two ministerial First Prize of Science and Technology Progress. In 2011 and 2012 she was named as "the Prominent Contributor for China Manned Space Engineering ", "2011 Annual Figure in Chinese Automation Field" and "2011 China Economic Annual Woman". In 2013 she was awarded the "2012 Annual China Space Foundation Award". 
Professor Yongchun Xie is a member of the council of Chinese Association of Automation, and editorial board member for Journal of Astronautics, and Aerospace Control and Applications.

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