A CubeSat docking module prototype

Waller, Robert (2022-04)

Thesis (MEng)--Stellenbosch University, 2022.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The ability to dock cubesats on orbit opens up a large range of possibilities for mission designers and planners. This thesis describes the development of parts of a cubesat sized docking module. Specifically, t he p ose e stimation system and docking interface. The pose estimation system was designed using a camera and marker system. The software of the system included blob detection, distortion correction and pose calculations. The individual elements of the system were tested followed by a full system test. The system was found to be relatively accurate, however, when the marker was not in the image centre, the accuracy of the system decreased massively. The design of the docking interface included the investigation of 3 different concept mechanisms. Two of the three mechanism were pursued to a docking module concept phase and one of these was then prototyped. It was found that the prototype showed promised in terms of the docking ability and provided many insights into its manufacturability. The feasibility of the two system as space-ready solutions was investigated. The systems were found to not require major changes to convert them to space-ready options. The complete system seems to show much promise for a docking module however more development is required to find a complete solution. A few suggestions were made into what needs to be done and some recommendations about improvements to the system were made.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die vermoë om twee Cubesats in-vlug te koppel aan mekaar maak ’n reeks toepassings beskikbaar wat vantevore nie moontlik was nie. Hierdie proefskrif beskryf die ontwikkeling van ’n prototipe cubesat koppelingsmodule. Daar word spesifiek g efokus o p d ie o rientasie a fskatting e n m eganiese koppelvlak elemente. Die orientasie afskattingsstelsel maak gebruik van ’n kamera met ’n merker op die teiken. Die sagteware wat dit instaatstel identifiseer helder kolle op die kamera beeld, pas distorsie korreksie toe en bereken dan die orientasie van die teiken relatief tot die kamera. Die elemente van hierdie substelsel is afsonderlik getoets, gevolg deur ’n volledige toets van die orientasie afskattingstelsel. Die orientasie afskatting toon genoegsame akkuraatheid, maar groter foute kom voor wanneer die teiken ver van die middel van die beeld voorkom. Die ontwerp van die meganiese koppelvlak het behels om drie verskillende konsepte te ondersoek. Twee van hierdie konsepte is verder geanaliseer, en slegs ’n enkele konstep is verder ontwikkel tot ’n fisiese p rototipe. Hierdie prototipe bevestig die vermoë om meganies te koppel en het ook insig verskaf in die vervaardiging van so ’n module. Die gebruik van hierdie twee elemente - die orientasie afskatting en megaiese koppelvlak - as boublokke van ’n volledige, vlug-gereed, koppelingstelsel vir ’n satelliet is ook verder ondersoek met aanbevelings.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/124727
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