Attitude Dynamics Modeling for Docking Operations with Uncooperative Objects

Open Access
Wittick, Patrick Thomas
Area of Honors:
Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Bradley Spencer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Robert Graham Melton, Honors Advisor
  • George A Lesieutre, Faculty Reader
  • Astrodynamics
  • Orbital Mechanics
  • Spaceflight
  • Space Rendezvous
  • Asteroid
  • Mass Characterization
The capture of an uncooperative object by a man-made spacecraft presents a unique dynamics and control challenge. The research detailed here focuses on a method of mass property characterization that takes place after such a rendezvous has occurred. The theoretical and practical grounding for the problem is detailed, including some exploration of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM). A dynamics model for the spacecraft-asteroid system is then developed. The simulation algorithm used to complete the mass characterization is described. The results of the simulation run for three different asteroid masses follow. The method presented here was able to obtain the mass and mass center to within ten percent of true values for some special cases, while its general accuracy requires further investigation. Following an analysis of the results, several potential extensions of this research are discussed along with the concluding remarks.