Space Robot Dynamics and Control: a Historical Perspective
Department of Aeronautics and Space Engineering, Tohoku University, Aoba 01, Sendai 980-8579, Japan
The Engineering Test Satellite VII (ETS-VII), developed and launched by National Space Development Agency of Japan (NASDA) on November 1997, has been successfully flown and carried out a lot of interesting orbital robotics experiments with a 2 meter-long, 6 DOF manipulator arm mounted on this un-manned spacecraft. The ETS-VII should be noted as one of remarkable outcomes of research effort on space robots, particularly characterized as an orbital free-flying robot which concept was brought in early 80s. This paper provides a historical overview and a summary of the ideas around dynamics and control proposed for free-flying space robots, then highlights key control technologies recently tested and verified on ETS-VII. The ETS-VII flight mission is an important milestone, but not a goal. The goal will be robotic service to satellites in orbits, including an emerging number ofcommunication satellites spreading out to the low-earth orbital networks or constellations. In a mission sequence of autonomous satellite capture, what part is now verified and what is left over for future researchxare also discussed.
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