Session

Session II: Where We're Going Section 1

Abstract

JPL has completed design of a small (<5 kg) spacecraft capable of visual inspection of a host vehicle with support from NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). The Micro-Inspector is designed to have a minimal impact on the host with respect to mass, size, cost, interface, and integration. On orbit, the host provides the separation signal to the Micro-Inspector, ejecting it to autonomously maneuver about the host taking images and communicating them back to the host in real-time. The Micro-Inspector is capable of receiving commands for additional utility. After operations are complete, the Micro-Inspector will go through an end of life disposal, ensuring it is at a safe distance and minimal risk to the host. The Micro-Inspector spacecraft features an FPGA based avionics design with embedded processors, miniaturized celestial sensors and a MEMS-based IMU for navigation, structured light system for hazard avoidance, triple-junction solar cells for power generation and lithiumion batteries for power storage, and a low pressure butane propulsion system, all in a compact and integrated structure, allowing the Micro-Inspector to operate in close proximity to another space object. Extra mass and volume can be used for additional sensors other than visual inspection to provide a more complete analysis of the local space environment. This paper describes the multi-mission utility of the Micro-Inspector and presents an overview of the spacecraft system and subsystem designs, description of a typical inspection mission scenario, and initial hardware demonstrations of key subsystems, partially integrated with each other in a Micro-Inspector testbed at JPL.

SSC06-II-6.pdf (3782 kB)
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Aug 15th, 10:00 AM

Micro-Inspector Spacecraft An Overview

JPL has completed design of a small (<5 >kg) spacecraft capable of visual inspection of a host vehicle with support from NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD). The Micro-Inspector is designed to have a minimal impact on the host with respect to mass, size, cost, interface, and integration. On orbit, the host provides the separation signal to the Micro-Inspector, ejecting it to autonomously maneuver about the host taking images and communicating them back to the host in real-time. The Micro-Inspector is capable of receiving commands for additional utility. After operations are complete, the Micro-Inspector will go through an end of life disposal, ensuring it is at a safe distance and minimal risk to the host. The Micro-Inspector spacecraft features an FPGA based avionics design with embedded processors, miniaturized celestial sensors and a MEMS-based IMU for navigation, structured light system for hazard avoidance, triple-junction solar cells for power generation and lithiumion batteries for power storage, and a low pressure butane propulsion system, all in a compact and integrated structure, allowing the Micro-Inspector to operate in close proximity to another space object. Extra mass and volume can be used for additional sensors other than visual inspection to provide a more complete analysis of the local space environment. This paper describes the multi-mission utility of the Micro-Inspector and presents an overview of the spacecraft system and subsystem designs, description of a typical inspection mission scenario, and initial hardware demonstrations of key subsystems, partially integrated with each other in a Micro-Inspector testbed at JPL.