A Distributed Hierarchical Framework for Autonomous Spacecraft Control

Julia M. Badger, Philip Strawser, Charles Claunch
2019 2019 IEEE Aerospace Conference  
Future human space missions for exploring beyond low Earth orbit are in the conceptual design stage. One such mission describes a habitat in cis-lunar orbit that is visited by crew periodically, others describe missions to Mars. These missions have one important thing in common: the need for autonomy on the spacecraft. This need stems from the latency and bandwidth constraints on communications between the vehicle and ground control. A variable amount of autonomy may be necessary whether the
more » ... cecraft has crew on board or not. Spacecraft are complex systems that are engineered as a collection of subsystems. These subsystems work together to control the overall state of the spacecraft. As such, solutions that increase the autonomy of the spacecraft (called autonomous functions) should respect both the independence and interconnectedness of the spacecraft subsystems. This distributed and hierarchical approach to system monitoring and control is a key idea in the Modular Autonomous Systems Technology (MAST) framework. The MAST framework enables a component-based architecture that provides interfaces and structure to developing autonomous technologies. The framework enforces a distributed, hierarchical architecture for autonomous control systems across subsystems, systems, elements, and vehicles. An example autonomous system was implemented in this framework and tested using realistic spacecraft software and hardware simulations. This paper will discuss the framework, tests conducted, results, and future work.
doi:10.1109/aero.2019.8742199 fatcat:yebd3yfk3fdxzcwuvtpuaqei3u