Session 1: The Year in Review


The Optical Communications and Sensors Demonstration (OCSD) program was initiated in 2012 by NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program (SSTP) to demonstrate optical communications from low Earth orbit to small ground terminals, proximity operations using CubeSats, and a CubeSat-compatible thruster. A risk-reduction “Pathfinder” spacecraft (AeroCube OCSD-A) was launched in October, 2015, followed by the main flight units (AeroCubes OCSD-B and -C) in November of 2017. As of June 2018, the -B and -C CubeSats were busy demonstrating the mission goals. Proximity operations started with both CubeSats being brought together within 6 km in the same orbit using a steam thruster. The OCSD-B CubeSat was put into an elliptical co-orbit about the -C CubeSat, with a small along-track drift, using the steam thruster. We performed one pass with a minimum range of 151-meters based on high-accuracy GPS data logged by both spacecraft, plus multiple subsequent passes. Future passes will add imaging and active optical ranging between spacecraft. This paper reviews the thruster system and current proximity operations test results.


Aug 6th, 3:15 PM

The NASA Optical Communications and Sensor Demonstration Program: Proximity Operations