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  • Kevin Chow, Nicholas Oune, Jake Singh, Daniel Thomlinson, Thomas Battista

Simulating Spacecraft Docking and Berthing Using ROS andGazebo

Kevin Chow, Nicholas Oune, Jake Singh, Daniel Thomlinson, Thomas Battista

The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, CA, 90245


Using the commercial off-the-shelf (COTS)Robot Operating System (ROS) software library in conjunction with the Gazebo simulation platform, we develop a simulation environment to model spacecraft docking and berthing operations. While COTS simulation tools have been used for various robotics applications, they have not been widely used for spacecraft modeling. To demonstrate capabilities of the simulation environment, we modeled a cooperative docking and berthing scenario between two generic spacecraft, one of which hosts a robotic arm. Using this scenario, we first study the accuracy of the simulation itself and note its performance with respect to conservation laws and trial-by-trial determinism. Then, we compare the performance of two types of robot arm controllers within this scenario – one based on traditional “stiff” position-based control and the other using compliant impedance-based control. The simulation environment was successful in providing the capabilities needed for the current study. Future work will expand upon the present capabilities.



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