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Cooperating Space Vehicles


Researches on Providing Interference Protection and Development of the Automatic Optical System to Check Rendezvous Parameters of Co-operating Space Vehicles

Tech Area / Field

  • SAT-VEC/Space Vehicles and Support Equipment/Space, Aircraft and Surface Transportation

8 Project completed

Registration date

Completion date

Senior Project Manager
Nietzold D

Leading Institute
NPO Geophysica / Special Design Bureau "GeoKos", Russia, Moscow

Supporting institutes

  • GNPO Polyus, Russia, Moscow\nNPO Energia, Russia, Moscow reg., Korolev


  • European Space Agency / European Space and Technology Center, The Netherlands, Noordwijk\nJena Optronik GmbH, Germany, Jena

Project summary

At rendezvous and docking in orbit of manned and pilotless space vehicles (SV) the measurement facilities are used, which check the parameters of their mutual position -the distance between the SVs, their mutual altitude and relative movement velocities. Presently, in real space flights the mentioned operations fully in the automatic mode are fulfilled by the only radio system "Kurs" developed in the Soviet Union. As preliminary design shows usage of the optical facilities for the mentioned above purposes would allow improve significantly mass and dimensional characteristics of the equipment, increase measurement accuracy at small distances. One of the factors, which makes it difficult to develop such equipment is existing on the SVs high level of the background straylight (first of all from the Sun).

Objective of the project proposed is development of the optical automatic system to check rendezvous parameters, for both manned and unmanned SVs, which is able to operate at the conditions of real background straylight existing at the SVs.

The founding part of the work is research on the problem of interference protection. As to this part, it is planned to systematize the existing and obtained data on the characteristics of the light jamming at the SV for the given type equipment, to develop the straylight interference model and the methods which provide the equipment operation at jamming conditions. Investigations on the SVs rendezvous dynamics are of great importance as well as research of dynamic impact influence on the equipment characteristics, development of related technical solutions.

Based on these investigations the project development, mathematic simulation, laboratory prototyping will be performed. The design documentation will be developed; the equipment sample will be manufactured and tested. Within the project frames it is planned to develop a special semiconductor laser operating both in pulse and in continuous way, as well as the photodetector unit operating at the increased level of interference background.

It is proposed to take as base the known system version where special reference marks (light reflectors or beacons) are installed on the passive SV and a goniometer range finder, measuring the reference marks coordinates and calculating the parameters of the SVs mutual position, is installed on the active SV.

The goniometer range finder scanns the space with the laser narrow beam and associated small field of view of the receiving part, searching the object of interest (a group of the reference marks) and tracking them after acquisition.

The system determines the following parameters, characterizing the SVs rendezvous:

1) sighting angles - azimuth and elevation;
2) angular rates along the sighting angles;
3) distance between the SVs;
4) approach velocity;
5) inclination angles for the docking plane - pitch and yaw;
6) roll angle.

Anticipated values of the main system characteristics:

1) operating range at any natural background straylight, including the Sun and reflections from the SV structure components - (1 - 2000) m;
2) operating angles:

- sighting angles - ± 20 degr.;
- pitch and yaw angles - ± 20 degr.;
- roll angle - ± 45 degr.;

3) main measurement errors:

- range (depending on the range) - (0.1-15) m;
- sighting angles (depending on the range) - (1-5) arc.min.;
- approach velocity - 0.003 m/s + 0.05 of the velocity;

4) equipment mass:

- on the-active SV (approx.) - 13 kg;
- on the passive SV (approx.) - 7 kg.

Potential role of foreign collaborators

It is desirable participation of foreign collaborators in discussion of technical characteristics of equipment and fields of its application, as well as support on the modern electronic components information and providing.


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