NASA VectorNav

NASA has awarded the phase one Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract to VectorNav to develop a ground-based simulation platform model for addressing space debris removal missions.

The approach is expected to enhance the possibility of active debris removal missions, further leading to successful space mission launches.

VectorNav engineering director and contract project manager, Jeremy Davis, said: "We’re looking forward to leveraging our extensive in-house expertise in sensing and dynamic systems to address this pressing global issue of space debris in low Earth orbit."

"Especially so in that this work will be conducted with two great partners in NASA and TEES," Davis said.

As part of the contract, a first of its kind, VectorNav will collaborate with Texas Engineering Experiment Station (TEES) and faculty at Texas A&M University to develop the system.

Incorporating new robotic technologies developed by Texas A&M’s Land Air and Space Robotics Laboratory (LASR) and VectorNav’s inertial sensing and dynamics modelling solutions, the combined research is aimed at achieving precise sensing used to conducthigh-fidelity simulation and autonomous proximity operations.

The project will be further assisted by John Junkins, a professor from Texas A&M University Aerospace Engineering, in designing robotic platforms with the omni-directional and six degree of freedom robot, HOMER, and enable resources used to conduct hardware-in-the-loop testing at LASR’s facilities.

Similar space debris missions are being developed by the scientists of Swiss Space Center who are planning to design and launch a new janitor satellite to clean up space debris and facilitate successful launches of satellites and manned space ships.


Image: The figure illustrates the amount of debris accumulated in the Earth’s lower orbit. Photo: VectorNav.