Title page for ETD etd-05032006-104034

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Romanelli, Christopher C
Author's Email Address cromanel@vt.edu
URN etd-05032006-104034
Title Software Simulation of an Unmanned Vehicle Performing Relative Spacecraft Orbits
Degree Master of Science
Department Aerospace and Ocean Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Schaub, Hanspeter Committee Chair
Hall, Christopher D. Committee Member
Woolsey, Craig A. Committee Member
  • Dynamic Simulation
  • Dynamics and Control
  • Orbit Simulation
Date of Defense 2006-04-27
Availability unrestricted
The challenge of sensing relative motion between vehicles is an important subject in the engineering

field in recent years. The associated applications range from spacecraft rendezvous

and docking to autonomous ground vehicle operations. The focus of this thesis is to develop

the simulation tools to examine this problem in the laboratory environment. More specifically,

the goal is to create a virtual unmanned ground vehicle that operates in the same

manner as an actual vehicle. This simulated vehicle allows for safely testing other software

or hardware components before application to the actual vehicle. In addition, the simulated

vehicle, in contrast to the real vehicle, is able to operate on different surfaces or even different

planets, with different gravitational accelerations. To accomplish this goal, the equations of

motion of a two-wheel driven unmanned vehicle are developed analytically. To study the

spacecraft application, the equations of motion for a spacecraft cluster are also developed.

These two simulations are implemented in a modular form using the UMBRA framework.

In addition, an interface between these two simulations is created for the unmanned vehicle

to mimic the translational motion of a spacecraft’s relative orbit. Finally, some of the

limitations and future improvements of the existing simulations are presented.

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