CHALLENGES OF SPACE STATION NAVIGATION

Paul T. Pixley

Peer Reviewed

Abstract: Challenging areas for space station (33) navigation include payload support, orbit prediction, traffic control, proximity operations, and automation. As the SS moves around the Earth in its orbit, the SS-to-sun line changes. The SS solar panels and radiators will be continually repositioned to maintain their desired orientation relative to the sun. The variation in the drag force due to changes in the SS cross-sectional area will introduce difficulties in accurate prediction of the SS state vector necessary to support mission planning. Traffic control navigation will require relative navigation for more than 10 vehicles flying in formation around the SS. Maintaining relative state vectors for so many vehicles around the SS considering the “differential drag” effects between the SS and these vehicles will provide another challenge. As space shuttles or orbital maneuvering vehicles approach and dock with the SS, the guidance, navigation and control system must allow for precise attitude matching and extremely low contact velocity. New technology navigation sensors will be required to satisfy this navigation accuracy requirement. The largest challenge is determining the level of automation for these complex tasks so that human resources required for effective and safe operational management will be most effectively utilized.
Published in: NAVIGATION, Journal of the Institute of Navigation, Volume 32, Number 4
Pages: 309 - 316
Cite this article: Pixley, Paul T., "CHALLENGES OF SPACE STATION NAVIGATION", NAVIGATION, Journal of The Institute of Navigation, Vol. 32, No. 4, Winter 1985-1986, pp. 309-316.
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