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Two key trends are revolutionizing the way humans conduct spaceflight, namely, the miniaturization of satellites (e.g., micro- and nano-satellites) and the distribution of payload tasks among multiple coordinated units (e.g., formation-flying, on-orbit servicing, fractionation, swarms). The combination of these approaches promises breakthroughs in space science (e.g., imaging of earth-like planets, characterization of gravitational waves), remote sensing (e.g., synthetic aperture radar interferometry, aeronomy, gravimetry), and space exploration (e.g., lifetime extension, assembly of structures, space debris removal). Irrespective of the specific application, future miniature distributed space missions require a high level of autonomy to maintain and reconfigure the relative motion of the participating vehicles within the prescribed accuracy and range of operations. Especially on small spacecraft, these requirements are hard to meet due to the limited resources, and the chief goal of current research and development is to pave the way for the autonomous Guidance, Navigation, & Control (GN&C) of “self-driving nanosatellites”. This presentation addresses the new miniature distributed space instruments and the related GN&C algorithms under development at the Stanford's Space Rendezvous laboratory.
Simone D’Amico is Associate Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AA) at Stanford University and W. M. Keck Faculty Scholar in the School of Engineering. He received the B.S. and M.S. degrees from Politecnico di Milano (2003) and the Ph.D. degree from Delft University of Technology (2010). From 2003 to 2014, he was research scientist and team leader at DLR, Germany. There he made key contributions to the design, development, and operations of spacecraft formation-flying and rendezvous missions such as GRACE, TanDEM-X, PRISMA, BIROS, and PROBA-3. At Stanford, he is the founding Director of the Space Rendezvous Laboratory and Director of the AA Undergraduate Program. Dr. D'Amico's research aims at enabling future miniature distributed space systems for unprecedented science and exploration. His efforts lie at the intersection of advanced astrodynamics, GN&C, and space system engineering to meet their tight requirements. As such, he is PI of the GN&C system of several upcoming autonomous satellite swarms missions such as STARLING, SWARM-EX, and VISORS. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA, Associate Editor of AIAA JGCD, and Chairman of the NASA Starshade Technology Working Group. Dr. D’Amico was the recipient of several awards, including Best Paper Awards at IEEE (2021), AIAA (2021), and AAS (2019) conferences, the Leonardo 500 Award by the Leonardo da Vinci Society/ISSNAF (2019), FAI/NAA’s Group Diploma of Honor (2018), DLR’s Sabbatical/Forschungssemester (2012) and Wissenschaft Preis (2006), and NASA’s Group Achievement Award for the GRACE mission (2004). More: https://damicos.people.stanford.edu/