Model predictive control system design and implementation for spacecraft rendezvous

Edward Hartley, Paul Trodden, Arthur Richards, Jan Maciejowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

This paper presents the design and implementation of a model predictive control (MPC) system to guide and control a chasing spacecraft during rendezvous with a passive target spacecraft in an elliptical or circular orbit, from the point of target detection all the way to capture. To achieve an efficient system design, the rendezvous manoeuvre has been partitioned into three main phases based on the range of operation, plus a collision-avoidance manoeuvre to be used in event of a fault. Each has its own associated MPC controller. Linear time-varying models are used to enable trajectory predictions in elliptical orbits, whilst a variable prediction horizon is used to achieve finite-time completion of manoeuvres, and a 1-norm cost on velocity change minimises propellant consumption. Constraints are imposed to ensure that trajectories do not collide with the target. A key feature of the design is the implementation of non-convex constraints as switched convex constraints, enabling the use of convex linear and quadratic programming. The system is implemented using commercial-off-the-shelf tools with deployment using automatic code generation in mind, and validated by closed-loop simulation. A significant reduction in total propellant consumption in comparison with a baseline benchmark solution is observed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)695–713
JournalControl Engineering Practice
Issue number7
Early online date10 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - 2012


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