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Formation Control Testbed


To support fundamental research and mature key component technologies of formation flying control, a number of proof-of-concept simulation and robotic testbeds have been developed.
Simulation Testbeds

JPL has developed the Formation Algorithm and Control Testbed (FACT) and the StarLight Control & Analysis Simulation Testbed (CAST) which demonstrated the Leader/ Follower formation control architecture and a hybrid formation guidance architecture. The FACT also demonstrated formation rotation guidance for synthetic aperture imaging. The CAST additionally demonstrated collision avoidance during reconfiguration and formation actuator synchronization during interferometric science observations.

The FACT and CAST are based in Matlab and C environments, respectively. Both simulation testbeds address small, deep space formations.

The Formation Initialization Testbed was developed specifically to demonstrate the scaleable, guaranteed formation initialization algorithm developed by the DST Formation Control Task. This initialization algorithm is applicable to arbitrarily-sized deep space formations. The testbed resides in a Matlab environment.

Finally, the Formation Algorithms and Simulation Testbed (FAST) has demonstrated for the first time two-spacecraft precision formation flying in a distributed, real time simulation environment. The FAST has begun to address such distributed spacecraft issues as communication latency, limited computational power, and compartmentalized information (each spacecraft has its own flight processor and simulation processor: information can only be exchanged via flight-like interfaces). The FAST is co-developed with the Code S Terrestrial Planet Finder (TPF) mission.
Watch: FFTL_FAST_movie



Formation Algorithms and Simulation Testbed (FAST)
Formation Initialization Testbed
Robotic Testbeds
In the areas of formation initialization, synchronized maneuvering, and optical acquisition and tracking, a number of JPL robotic testbeds have made the use of air bearings and magnetic levitation to emulate flight like dynamics and operating environment.

The Formation Acquisition & Attitude Alignment testbed demonstrated rule-based control laws for synchronized attitude and relative position alignment for planar formations. The Synchronized Rotation Testbed (SRT) is another 3 DOF testbed, but whereas the Formation Acquisition & Alignment testbed has one rotational and two translational degrees of freedom, the SRT has three rotational degrees of freedom. Finally, the Formation Optical Alignment Testbed is designed to demonstrate precision optical control in a formation environment by using an operating interferometer as a payload.

The Formation Control Testbed (FCT) is a component of the Formation Flying Technology Laboratory at JPL. The FCT is a 6 degree of freedom, robotic testbed with flight-like hardware, interfaces and computing capabilities. It will address all aspects of precision formations, including fault scenarios, in an end-to-end performance testbed.


Formation Flying Technology Laboratory (FFTL) - Bldg. 199
Formation Flying Technology Laboratory (FFTL) - Bldg. 199
Control Room - Bldg. 199
Control Room - Bldg. 199


















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