Rendezvous Or Docking Patents (Class 244/172.4)
  • Patent number: 10513352
    Abstract: A system and method for transferring a satellite from an initial orbit into a mission orbit. The method includes anchoring to the satellite of an external unit having a tank containing a reserve of propellants. The system includes an autonomous spacecraft having an electric propulsion module and a small internal reserve of propellants, located in a parking orbit close to the initial orbit. The spacecraft with the external unit attached to the satellite is docketed in an initial orbit, to produce a fluidic connection of the propellant tank of the external unit to the propulsion module of the spacecraft. The external unit and satellite is transferred into the mission orbit by the electric propulsion module of the spacecraft supplied with propellants directly from the external unit, thereby releasing the satellite into the mission orbit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 4, 2015
    Date of Patent: December 24, 2019
    Assignee: AIRBUS DEFENCE AND SPACE SAS
    Inventors: Dominique Poncet, Cyril Tourneur, René Cheynet De Beaupre
  • Patent number: 10513354
    Abstract: There is disclosed a Payload Ejection System (PES) able to store any set of payloads for launch and eject that set of payloads at a controlled speed with a low tumble rate while accommodating any offset centre of mass within a restricted volume. The need for ballasting or balancing is eliminated thus freeing up the design space for these payloads. Insensitivity to centre of mass location is enabled by the use of a deployment hinge assembly arrangement which uses two or more non-parallel folding hinge arrangements that allow for linear motion of the output link in one direction while restricting the motion all other directions. One embodiment of the current PES concept uses four (4) hinge panel assemblies, selected to provide optimal stiffness around the entire mechanism. The stiffness of the PES is integral to managing offset centre-of-mass locations by allowing the mechanism to translate the effective force vector to the center of mass location.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 12, 2019
    Date of Patent: December 24, 2019
    Assignee: MACDONALD, DETTWILER AND ASSOCIATES INC.
    Inventors: Tej Singh Sachdev, John Douglas Lymer, Richard Andrew Bryan, Branko Francetic, Paul Robert Peacock, Peter Panagiotis Krimbalis
  • Patent number: 10464696
    Abstract: A space device includes: an adhesion part to adhere to a target existing in the space; and a propulsion part to obtain propulsion power. The space device that adheres to the target at the adhesion part moves together with the target by the propulsion part, thereby conveying the target to a predetermined target position.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 18, 2015
    Date of Patent: November 5, 2019
    Assignee: ASTROSCALE JAPAN INC.
    Inventor: Mitsunobu Okada
  • Patent number: 10469527
    Abstract: Disclosed are systems and methods for protection of a technological system (TS) from cyber attacks. An exemplary method comprises: obtaining a real state of the TS; initializing a cybernetic control system (CCS) by synchronizing the CCS with the TS; comparing, by the CCS, the real state of the TS with an ideal state of the TS; based on the comparison, identifying a deviation of the real state of the TS from the ideal state of the TS; when the deviation is identified, checking an integrity of at least functional interconnections of the states of one or more elements of the TS; determining whether the ideal state of the TS is a modeling error based on one or more confirmed sustained functional interconnections between elements of the TS; and identifying anomalies in the TS based on one or more disturbed functional interconnections between elements of the TS.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 2, 2016
    Date of Patent: November 5, 2019
    Assignee: AO Kaspersky Lab
    Inventors: Sergey V. Gordeychik, Andrey B. Lavrentyev, Andrey P. Doukhvalov
  • Patent number: 10427808
    Abstract: There is disclosed a Payload Ejection System (PES) able to store any set of payloads for launch and eject that set of payloads at a controlled speed with a low tumble rate while accommodating any offset center of mass within a restricted volume. The need for ballasting or balancing is eliminated thus freeing up the design space for these payloads. Insensitivity to center of mass location is enabled by the use of a deployment hinge assembly arrangement which uses two or more non-parallel folding hinge arrangements that allow for linear motion of the output link in one direction while restricting the motion all other directions. One embodiment of the current PES concept uses four (4) hinge panel assemblies, selected to provide optimal stiffness around the entire mechanism. The stiffness of the PES is integral to managing offset center-of-mass locations by allowing the mechanism to translate the effective force vector to the center of mass location.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 19, 2015
    Date of Patent: October 1, 2019
    Assignee: MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Inc.
    Inventors: Tej Singh Sachdev, John Douglas Lymer, Richard Andrew Bryan, Branko Francetic, Paul Robert Peacock, Peter Panagiotis Krimbalis
  • Patent number: 10145993
    Abstract: Described are retroreflective marker devices, which encode information that can be read by optical sensors, such as LiDAR devices, and that do not detract from human safety. Also described are kits for retrofitting existing markers.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 4, 2018
    Date of Patent: December 4, 2018
    Assignee: LIGHTHOUSE & BEACON, INC.
    Inventors: Sura Hadi, William Davis, Michael John Bosworth Roberts, Michalyn Andrews
  • Patent number: 10099805
    Abstract: A habitation module that provides an artificial gravity environment. In one embodiment, the habitation module includes a core structure having cylindrical sections spaced apart from one another, and a hub that slides over one of the cylindrical sections of the core structure to span a distance between the cylindrical sections. The hub includes a plurality of portals spaced radially around a circumference of the hub, and gravity chambers attach to portals of the hub. A drive mechanism rotates the hub about an axis in relation to the core structure to simulate a gravitational force within the gravity chambers. Rotary seals form an air-tight seal between the hub and the cylindrical sections of the core structure so that the interior of the hub and the gravity chambers may be pressurized.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 24, 2016
    Date of Patent: October 16, 2018
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Raju Dharmaraj
  • Patent number: 10081445
    Abstract: A habitation module that provides an artificial gravity environment. In one embodiment, the habitation module includes a stationary structure and a rotating structure. The stationary structure includes circular side walls that are coaxially aligned and attached by one or more support beams. The rotating structure slides onto the stationary structure, and rotates about an axis in relation to the stationary structure. The rotating structure includes a cylindrical hub, and a plurality of gravity chambers that are permanently affixed to the cylindrical hub and project radially from the axis. Radial seals form an air-tight seal between the rotating structure and the stationary structure.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 23, 2016
    Date of Patent: September 25, 2018
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Raju Dharmaraj
  • Patent number: 10081444
    Abstract: A habitation module that provides an artificial gravity environment. In one embodiment, the habitation module includes a stationary structure including a hub having a plurality of portals spaced radially around an outer cylindrical surface of the hub, and a rotating structure that attaches to the outer cylindrical surface of the hub using rotatable attachment members to rotate about an axis in relation to the hub. The rotating structure includes a platform that attaches to the rotatable attachment members and is configured to revolve around the outer cylindrical surface of the hub on the rotatable attachment members. The rotating structure also includes a gravity chamber that attaches to the platform, and projects radially from the axis. A drive mechanism is configured to rotate the rotating structure about the axis in relation to the hub to simulate a gravitational force within the gravity chamber.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 15, 2016
    Date of Patent: September 25, 2018
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventor: Raju Dharmaraj
  • Patent number: 9927838
    Abstract: Disclosed is a sensor system for a docking station including a receiving portion, a topside of the receiving portion for receiving an electronic device, a bottom side of the receiving portion, a first magnetic sensor on the bottom side of the receiving portion for detecting the presence of the electronic device. The sensor system can further include a second magnetic sensor on the bottom side of the receiving portion for detecting the presence of the electronic device. The first sensor can be positioned to correspond to the position of the first speaker when the electronic device is seated in the topside of the receiving portion and the second sensor can be positioned to correspond to the position of the second speaker when the electronic device is seated in the topside of the receiving portion. Sensor system can detect the presence and proper position of an electronic device in a docking station by having magnetic sensors to detect a magnetic field emitted by the speakers of the electronic device.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 4, 2016
    Date of Patent: March 27, 2018
    Assignee: Henge Docks LLC
    Inventors: Matthew Leigh Vroom, Brandon Parod
  • Patent number: 9914550
    Abstract: A multi-use resupply system for a space-based platform may include a multi-use tug to swap old and new cargo containers on a launch vehicle upper stage. The system can rely on the launch vehicle upper stage to provide the function of cargo de-orbit and disposal. The launch vehicle upper stage may be provided with sufficient propellant and propulsion functionality to operate for a long enough period in space to maneuver a new cargo container to a rendezvous trajectory, support the swapping of cargo containers, and then perform a de-orbit burn with the old cargo container.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 24, 2015
    Date of Patent: March 13, 2018
    Assignee: Lockheed Martin Corporation
    Inventors: Robert Stephen Price, Larry Raymond Hines, John Charles Ringelberg
  • Patent number: 9841748
    Abstract: The present invention relates to a vision based inspection tool for setting of an initial origin of an automation machine tool, and more particularly, to a built-in type of vision based inspection tool for setting of an initial origin capable of improving setting precision of a current automation machine tool that depends on initial setting and increasing productivity depending on individual automatic setting by automatically sensing a machining origin in order to perform initial machining and re-machining of an existing workpiece using an automation machine tool and compensating for the machining origin to eliminate a time required for setting machining origins for various shapes in a jog mode.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: September 26, 2014
    Date of Patent: December 12, 2017
    Assignee: KOREA INSTITUTE OF MACHINERY & MATERIALS
    Inventors: Dong-Hoon Kim, Joonyub Song
  • Patent number: 9809329
    Abstract: Systems and methods for interconnecting dual manifested spacecraft for launch by a launch vehicle are disclosed. Different motive forces are utilized to couple a first spacecraft to a second spacecraft and to restrict demating of the second spacecraft from the first spacecraft. Some systems and methods utilize pneumatic pressure to permit mating of a first spacecraft to a second spacecraft and utilize spring force to restrict demating of the second spacecraft from the first spacecraft.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: July 14, 2014
    Date of Patent: November 7, 2017
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Richard William Aston, Michael J. Langmack
  • Patent number: 9746560
    Abstract: A three-dimensional (3D) coordinate measurement device combines tracker and scanner functionality. The tracker function is configured to send light to a retroreflector and determine distance to the retroreflector based on the reflected light. The tracker is also configured to track the retroreflector as it moves, and to determine 3D coordinates of the retroreflector. The scanner is configured to send a beam of light to a point on an object surface and to determine 3D coordinate of the point. In addition, the scanner is configured to adjustably focus the beam of light.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 28, 2015
    Date of Patent: August 29, 2017
    Assignee: FARO TECHNOLOGIES, INC.
    Inventors: Kenneth Steffey, Robert E. Bridges, David H. Parker
  • Patent number: 9669950
    Abstract: The present invention provides a capture mechanism for capturing and locking onto the Marman flange located on the exterior surfaces of spacecraft/satellites. The capture mechanism achieves its goal of quickly capturing a client spacecraft by splitting the two basic actions involved into two separate mechanisms. One mechanism performs the quick grasp of the target while the other mechanism rigidises that grasp to ensure that the target is held as firmly as desired.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 4, 2015
    Date of Patent: June 6, 2017
    Assignee: MACDONALD, DETTWILER AND ASSOCIATES INC.
    Inventors: Richard Rembala, Andrew Turner, Justin Charbonneau
  • Patent number: 9555900
    Abstract: A method for positioning an access or loading assembly against the fuselage of an aircraft during the loading or unloading process, in which at least two multichannel scanners are oriented toward the aircraft fuselage and disposed above one another at a distance from each other, each with several light emitting units and at least one detector. First, a reference position is determined by using the scanners, then a current position of the aircraft fuselage relative to the access or loading assembly is determined at determined time intervals by the multichannel scanners. The current position is compared with the reference position to determine a deviation. In case of a deviation between the two positions, a signal is transmitted to the control system of the positioning drive for realigning the access or loading assembly and reducing the deviation.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 13, 2016
    Date of Patent: January 31, 2017
    Assignees: Pepperl+Fuchs GmbH, Hübner GmbH & Co. KG
    Inventors: Lothar Scharf, Rolf Herwig, Holger Jaap, Ernst Tabel, Thorsten Schroeder
  • Patent number: 9434485
    Abstract: A debris removal system that includes at least a control module that includes a debris contact module storage area, a maneuverable arm and camera storage area, a maneuverable arm, a camera, and a universal coupler socket; a guidance, control, and communications unit; a maneuvering module, wherein the maneuvering module includes fuel/propellant storage containers that provide fuel/propellant, via a control and fuel/propellant delivery conduit, to one or more control thrusters; a propulsion module, wherein the propulsion module includes fuel/propellant storage containers that provide fuel/propellant to at least one primary thrust device; and a debris contact module, wherein the debris contact module includes a debris contact member attached or coupled to a debris contact element, and wherein a universal coupler pin extends from the debris contact member so as to allow the debris contact module to be attached or coupled to the universal coupler socket of the control module.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: January 25, 2013
    Date of Patent: September 6, 2016
    Inventor: Stephen C. Lehocki
  • Patent number: 9302793
    Abstract: A method and apparatus for docking a spacecraft. The apparatus comprises elongate members, movement systems, and force management systems. The elongate members are associated with a docking structure for a spacecraft. The movement systems are configured to move the elongate members axially such that the docking structure for the spacecraft moves. Each of the elongate members is configured to move independently. The force management systems connect the movement systems to the elongate members and are configured to limit a force applied by the each of the elongate members to a desired threshold during movement of the elongate members.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 21, 2014
    Date of Patent: April 5, 2016
    Assignee: THE BOEING COMPANY
    Inventors: Siamak Ghofranian, Li-Ping Christopher Chuang, Pejmun Motaghedi
  • Patent number: 9033280
    Abstract: A spacecraft carrier is disclosed. The carrier has a large internal volume for housing at least one spacecraft. The carrier can be used as a repair and maintenance facility in space for spacecraft. Manned and unmanned devices can be stored, repaired and resupplied. The carrier can also transport a number of spacecraft to other locations allowing for an efficient coordinated movement of many spacecraft.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 15, 2011
    Date of Patent: May 19, 2015
    Assignee: Bigelow Aerospace
    Inventor: Robert T. Bigelow
  • Patent number: 9022323
    Abstract: For capturing satellites and other orbital objects, one or more independent capturing units are releasably arranged on a spacecraft serving as a steerable carrier vehicle. Each capturing unit has a propellant charge and at least one braking thrust nozzle of its own, and a closeable capture net releasably connected to the capturing unit via a tether line. The net is deployed from the capturing unit to capture the orbital object. Position or attitude control engines of the carrier vehicle are operated for orienting the combination including the capturing unit and the orbital object captured in the net. The capturing unit is then released from the carrier vehicle, and applies a braking thrust to the captured object so as to deorbit the captured object together with the capturing unit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 29, 2012
    Date of Patent: May 5, 2015
    Assignee: Astrium GmbH
    Inventors: Juergen Starke, Bernhard Bischof, Josef Sommer, Michael Dumke, Uwe Bruege
  • Patent number: 8967548
    Abstract: A method for delivering a payload to a space facility is provided. The method includes detecting the relative position and velocity of a launch vehicle stage, the launch vehicle stage including the payload and one or more thrusters. The method also includes providing guidance information to the launch vehicle stage. The launch vehicle stage does not include a relative navigation system. In response to receiving the guidance information, the method further includes activating one or more thrusters corresponding to the guidance information, and guiding a capture head of a boom into capture proximity to the payload. One end of the boom is coupled to the space facility and the other end of the boom is coupled to the capture head. The method also includes capturing the payload, removing any residual relative velocity of the payload relative to the space facility, and moving the captured payload to the space facility.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 6, 2012
    Date of Patent: March 3, 2015
    Assignee: Altius Space Machines
    Inventors: Jonathan Andrew Goff, Michel Edward Loucks, Kirk David Dameron
  • Publication number: 20150053823
    Abstract: A spacecraft capture tug is disclosed. The tug can capture objects in space, including spacecraft and satellites, using an engagement system and provide propulsion for the object to a point of servicing, repair, or other desired operations. Further, the tug may dock with other specialty tugs to form a custom transport system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: August 20, 2014
    Publication date: February 26, 2015
    Applicant: Bigelow Aerospace LLC
    Inventor: Robert T. Bigelow
  • Publication number: 20150008290
    Abstract: A docking node transporter tug is disclosed. The tug can dock with various spacecraft to allow access by people between the spacecraft. Further, the tug may dock with other specialty tugs to form a custom system.
    Type: Application
    Filed: July 2, 2014
    Publication date: January 8, 2015
    Applicant: Bigelow Aerospace LLC
    Inventor: Robert T. Bigelow
  • Patent number: 8882047
    Abstract: A method and respective system for delivering cargoes into space by means of preliminary launching cargoes and then capturing cargoes by at least one container spacecraft, accumulating and further transferring to other spacecrafts, wherein the container spacecraft is designed for capturing cargoes as separate portions in the form of a cloud or stream as well as for use of a propulsion system to compensate for container spacecraft speed losses caused by the cargo capture and an aerodynamic drag, wherein the propulsion system being a reactive type with consumption of a part of the incoming cargoes as a working substance.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 2, 2010
    Date of Patent: November 11, 2014
    Inventor: Alexander Olegovich Maiboroda
  • Patent number: 8882048
    Abstract: A processing and delivery system is in space around a celestial body having a magnetic field. The system includes at least one facility having supplies and configured for in-space recycling and manufacturing to produce processed objects utilizing space debris objects and the supplies. The system includes at least one space vehicle configured to deliver the space debris objects from their orbits to the at least one facility using electrodynamic propulsion. The system includes at least one space vehicle configured to deliver new supplies to the at least one facility from other orbits using electrodynamic propulsion. The system includes at least one space vehicle configured to deliver the processed objects from the at least one facility to their destination orbits using electrodynamic propulsion.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 20, 2011
    Date of Patent: November 11, 2014
    Inventors: Eugene M. Levin, Joseph A. Carroll, Jerome Pearson
  • Publication number: 20140306066
    Abstract: This claim is for methods of delivering items in space which allow for increases in the efficiency of mass based propulsion systems. This claim is based upon existing knowledge that professionals in the field of rocketry should understand with no need of reference materials.
    Type: Application
    Filed: November 8, 2013
    Publication date: October 16, 2014
    Inventor: Matthew Hal Burch
  • Patent number: 8843301
    Abstract: A system and methods for coordinating positioning of vehicles in motion is disclosed. The method graphically presents displayed synchronization parameters on a display screen such that a user determines a planned position of a first vehicle on a planned path in order to arrive at a predetermined position at a correct time. The method further synchronizes the first vehicle with the planned position on the planned path using the displayed synchronization parameters and performs a rendezvous between the first vehicle and a second vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 22, 2013
    Date of Patent: September 23, 2014
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Charles B. Spinelli, Glenn Hanbey
  • Patent number: 8833702
    Abstract: An autonomous system for a satellite which calculates collision paths of debris from anywhere within the spheroid around the satellite by using its radar/ladar data and from data on its own orbit derived by onboard sensors such as star, earth and sun sensors or from stored data sent from its ground control station through the satellite's command subsystem. If a collision would be likely, the system calculates the minimum change in the satellite's orbit to avoid such collision and generates and executes commands for firing on-board orbital control thrusters to put the satellite in a suitable avoidance orbit.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 27, 2013
    Date of Patent: September 16, 2014
    Inventor: Robert Briskman
  • Patent number: 8820353
    Abstract: Disclosed is a multipart valve assembly. The assembly can be used in selectively coupling two vehicles. The assembly includes inter-fitting male and female components and associated control valves. Coupling the male and female components establishes media (fluid or gas), communications, and electrical paths between space vehicles. This permits the passage of media from one vehicle to the other and likewise enables one vehicle to operate the control valve of the other vehicle.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 29, 2011
    Date of Patent: September 2, 2014
    Assignee: Carleton Technologies, Inc.
    Inventors: Tom Yandle, David Fordham
  • Patent number: 8807485
    Abstract: Systems and methods for interconnecting dual manifested spacecraft for launch by a launch vehicle are disclosed. Different motive forces are utilized to couple a first spacecraft to a second spacecraft and to restrict demating of the second spacecraft from the first spacecraft. Some systems and methods utilize pneumatic pressure to permit mating of a first spacecraft to a second spacecraft and utilize spring force to restrict demating of the second spacecraft from the first spacecraft.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 7, 2012
    Date of Patent: August 19, 2014
    Assignee: The Boeing Company
    Inventors: Richard William Aston, Michael J. Langmack
  • Patent number: 8783622
    Abstract: A device for grappling orbital debris includes a chain of interconnected links, each having a corresponding contact sensor (for sensing contact with the orbital debris), and each connected to a subsequent link by an actuator (e.g., a worm drive assembly or the like). The actuators are configured to sequentially cause rotation of each link in the chain until the corresponding contact sensor indicates that the link has made contact with the orbital debris. Subsequently, the next link in the chain is rotated, and so on, until the chain of interconnected links substantially surrounds at least a portion of the orbital debris.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 9, 2011
    Date of Patent: July 22, 2014
    Assignee: Raytheon Company
    Inventor: Leonard D. Vance
  • Publication number: 20140107865
    Abstract: Systems, apparatuses, and methods for removal of orbital debris are provided. In one embodiment, an apparatus includes a spacecraft control unit configured to guide and navigate the apparatus to a target. The apparatus also includes a dynamic object characterization unit configured to characterize movement, and a capture feature, of the target. The apparatus further includes a capture and release unit configured to capture a target and deorbit or release the target. The collection of these apparatuses is then employed as multiple, independent and individually operated vehicles launched from a single launch vehicle for the purpose of disposing of multiple debris objects.
    Type: Application
    Filed: October 12, 2012
    Publication date: April 17, 2014
    Applicants: NATIONAL AERONAUTICS AND SPACE ADMINISTRATION, THE AEROSPACE CORPORATION
    Inventors: Anthony D. Griffith, SR., Rajiv Kohli, Susan H. Burns, Stephen J. Damico, David J. Gruber, Christsopher J. Hickey, David E. Lee, Travis M. Robinson, Jason T. Smith, Peter T. Spehar, David S. Adlis, Brian M. Kent
  • Patent number: 8628044
    Abstract: Disclosed herein, in certain embodiments, is a method of altering the stability of unstable space debris. In some embodiments, the method further comprises changing the orbit of the unstable space debris.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 22, 2012
    Date of Patent: January 14, 2014
    Assignee: Poulos Air & Space
    Inventor: Dennis Poulos
  • Patent number: 8608113
    Abstract: A method for capturing a container of planet ground samples moving in space by a probe also moving in space includes, when the probe is on the orbit of the container, at a distance of a few meters therefrom and the receiving face of the probe is oriented toward the container, generating, on board the probe, a first controlled magnetic field to reduce the angular speeds of the container and orient it in a preferred direction for the capture, and, when these speeds have become negligible and the probe is positioned in the correct orientation, while the probe is being brought closer to the container, a process of attraction of the container relative to the probe is begun using another field whose field lines converge toward the capture zone of the probe.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 4, 2009
    Date of Patent: December 17, 2013
    Assignee: Thales
    Inventors: Hervé Renault, Francis Arbusti, Hervé Sainct
  • Patent number: 8464983
    Abstract: A towing apparatus for a spacecraft when in orbit is provided. The towing apparatus includes a cable, the first end of which is intended to be permanently connected to a spacecraft that must potentially be towed, and the second end of which is provided to be at least temporarily connected to a towing spacecraft for the purpose of towing. An attachment piece is disposed on the second end of the cable for mechanical attachment to a complementary attachment piece of the towing spacecraft, and a positioning aid is disposed to allow for simplified detection of the attachment piece by the towing spacecraft.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 9, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 18, 2013
    Assignee: Astrium GmbH
    Inventor: Ulrich Knirsch
  • Patent number: 8459596
    Abstract: A sky/space elevator vehicle for going from the surface of a planet or moon up into space and back again. The vehicle has a single fuselage comprising multiple floor sections including a top and bottom cone. The movement of the vehicle is controlled by helium filled envelops as well as a combined jet and rocket propulsion system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 1, 2009
    Date of Patent: June 11, 2013
    Inventor: Sunstar Im
  • Publication number: 20130140403
    Abstract: A method for delivering a payload to a space facility is provided. The method includes detecting the relative position and velocity of a launch vehicle stage, the launch vehicle stage including the payload and one or more thrusters. The method also includes providing guidance information to the launch vehicle stage. The launch vehicle stage does not include a relative navigation system. In response to receiving the guidance information, the method further includes activating one or more thrusters corresponding to the guidance information, and guiding a capture head of a boom into capture proximity to the payload. One end of the boom is coupled to the space facility and the other end of the boom is coupled to the capture head. The method also includes capturing the payload, removing any residual relative velocity of the payload relative to the space facility, and moving the captured payload to the space facility.
    Type: Application
    Filed: December 6, 2012
    Publication date: June 6, 2013
    Inventors: Jonathan Andrew Goff, Michel Edward Loucks, Kirk David Dameron
  • Patent number: 8448904
    Abstract: A tool mounted on a servicer satellite for fuelling an unprepared or partially prepared client satellite. The tool includes a robotic arm mounted on the servicer satellite and a valve tool configured to be releasibly gripped by the robotic arm. The valve tool includes a housing with a support frame and a wrench mechanism mounted on the support frame. The wrench mechanism is configured for removing and replacing the first access valve cap on the first fill-drain valve and coupling a first propellant fill line to the first propellant tank optionally removing and replacing the second access valve cap on the second fill-drain valve on the second propellant tank and coupling a second propellant fill line to the second propellant tank, and actuating the valve actuation nut on the first fill-drain valve, and optionally actuating the valve actuation nut on the second fill-drain valve.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: May 14, 2012
    Date of Patent: May 28, 2013
    Assignee: MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Inc.
    Inventors: Lawrence Gryniewski, Derry Crymble
  • Publication number: 20130126678
    Abstract: A method and apparatus provide for a basket of passively-safe thruster-burn positions within a context of rendezvous between a space-vehicle and a resident-space-object while in orbit around the Earth, for example. The basket of positions is defined by an intersection of a plurality of half-spaces determined based on a keep-out-zone associated with the resident-space-object, and a nominal position of the space-vehicle. The plurality of half-spaces defines a corresponding plurality of half-space boundary conditions within which the basket of positions is disposed. When a position of the space-vehicle is within the basket of positions at a time of a scheduled thruster-burn, then the scheduled thruster-burn is ensured to result in passive-safety.
    Type: Application
    Filed: June 27, 2012
    Publication date: May 23, 2013
    Applicant: LOCKHEED MARTIN CORPORATION
    Inventor: Richard Bruce ROMNEY, JR.
  • Patent number: 8412391
    Abstract: Provided is a method and system for maneuvering a first spacecraft relative to a nearby second spacecraft that occupies a finite volume of space including obstacles in the vicinity of the second from a measured present relative position to a desired ending relative position. A trajectory is computed for the first spacecraft from the present relative position to the ending relative position using the A* algorithm. One or more thrusters of the first spacecraft are then fired. The first spacecraft's relative position and velocity are then measured and compared to the computed trajectory.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 18, 2008
    Date of Patent: April 2, 2013
    Assignee: Princeton Satelitte Systems
    Inventors: Michael A. Paluszek, Pradeep Bhatta
  • Patent number: 8333346
    Abstract: A single center elevator, circle inner-ring, circle outer-ring elevator, vertical fuselage flight, vertical plan multi-floor section, bottom escape cockpit, top escape cockpit, mass-levitate, ascend, descend flight, first, second, third, fourth section, control tower, bed, food service, lavatory, landing pad, winch machine, jet/rocket fuel tank, circle passage hole, rope anchor hook, earth terminal station, center-hanger, up nozzle, down nozzle, Jet/rocket power plants, inner-docking bays, outer docking bays, multi robotic arms, cone shaped circular, glue, cylindrical multi-soft envelopes, cylindrical thick outer wall envelope, ceramic fiber fabric, geometric form, web-mesh carbon wire, upper chute-flap, down chute flap, helium gas, float, circle center post pole, truss bridge, top circle truss, hover, anchors, parking zone, V-shaped circle, laser, floor gate, test-gauge, repair/inspection, guy-wires, heavy grade mesh-ceramic fiber, launch/docking platforms, light grade web-mesh ceramic fiber, cargo-transport
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 18, 2009
    Date of Patent: December 18, 2012
    Inventor: Sunstar Im
  • Patent number: 8333347
    Abstract: For each capture mechanism of a plurality of three capture mechanisms, a necked coupling element received by a corresponding socket slides therealong and engages a corresponding latch lever biased in an open position and rotates the latch lever to a closed position as the necked coupling element is slid within the socket towards a bottom thereof. A latch locked biased against the latch lever engages a notch in the latch lever when the latch lever is closed so as to latch the latch lever in the closed position and thereby capture the necked coupling element within the socket. The latch lever is unlatched by releasing the latch lock from engagement with the latch. Different latch levers incorporate different shaped surfaces that engage different corresponding necked coupling elements captured thereby so as to provide for respectively constraining in one, two and three degrees-of-freedom, respectively.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: April 16, 2012
    Date of Patent: December 18, 2012
    Assignee: Michigan Aerospace Corporation
    Inventors: Greg Alan Ritter, Anthony Beckman Hays, Peter Tchoryk, Jr., Jane Camile Pavlich, Gregory Joseph Wassick
  • Publication number: 20120228435
    Abstract: A device for grappling orbital debris includes a chain of interconnected links, each having a corresponding contact sensor (for sensing contact with the orbital debris), and each connected to a subsequent link by an actuator (e.g., a worm drive assembly or the like). The actuators are configured to sequentially cause rotation of each link in the chain until the corresponding contact sensor indicates that the link has made contact with the orbital debris. Subsequently, the next link in the chain is rotated, and so on, until the chain of interconnected links substantially surrounds at least a portion of the orbital debris.
    Type: Application
    Filed: March 9, 2011
    Publication date: September 13, 2012
    Applicant: RAYTHEON COMPANY
    Inventor: Leonard D. Vance
  • Patent number: 8262028
    Abstract: A spacecraft (P) has a propulsion system making it possible to exert a force of variable magnitude and orientation on the spacecraft, a control system designed to control the propulsion system in terms of magnitude and orientation so as to make the spacecraft approach a target around a planet, with the aid of a force having at least one component (fx, fy, fz), in the rotating reference frame tied to the target, which depends substantially linearly on the corresponding coordinate (x, y, z) of the craft in this reference frame.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: February 27, 2007
    Date of Patent: September 11, 2012
    Assignees: Universite Pierre et Marie Curie (Paris 6), Palais de la Decouverte, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
    Inventors: Badaoui El Mabsout, Alain Bioget, Michel Dudeck
  • Patent number: 8240613
    Abstract: First and second portions of a docking system are releasably connected with one another using at least one latch mechanism that can be reusably released either from the first portion of the docking system or from the second portion of the docking system.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: March 23, 2009
    Date of Patent: August 14, 2012
    Assignee: Michigan Aerospace Corporation
    Inventors: Greg Alan Ritter, Anthony Beckman Hays, Peter Tchoryk, Jr., Jane Camile Pavlich, Gregory Joseph Wassick
  • Patent number: 8226046
    Abstract: Disclosed herein, in certain embodiments, is a method of altering the stability of unstable space debris. In some embodiments, the method further comprises changing the orbit of the unstable space debris.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: November 23, 2010
    Date of Patent: July 24, 2012
    Assignee: Poulos Air & Space
    Inventor: Dennis Poulos
  • Patent number: 8210480
    Abstract: Space tug vehicles and methods for providing space tugs and moving target vehicles are provided. More particularly, a space tug utilizing electrostatic or Coulomb force for acting on target vehicles and for moving the target vehicles into new orbits or altitudes are provided. The space tug may establish an attractive electrostatic force by controlling the electrical potential of the space tug so that it is opposite the electrical potential of a target vehicle. The target vehicle may acquire an absolute electrical potential due to its interaction with the space plasma and photoelectrons or the space tug may impart additional charge to the target vehicle. After establishing the attractive electrostatic force, a propulsion system of the space tug is operated to provide thrust. Thrust is directed to change the orbit and/or position of the target vehicle that is being pulled towards the space tug by the electrostatic force.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: August 13, 2009
    Date of Patent: July 3, 2012
    Inventors: Daniel F. Moorer, Hanspeter Schaub
  • Patent number: 8205838
    Abstract: Spacecraft vehicles and methods for providing reorbiters capable of moving target objects are provided. More particularly, a reorbiter utilizing electrostatic or Coulomb force for acting on target objects and for moving the target objects into new orbits or altitudes are provided. The reorbiter may establish an electrostatic force by controlling the electrical potential of the reorbiter through active charge emission. The target object may acquire an electrical potential due to its interaction with the space plasma and photoelectrons or the reorbiter may impart additional charge to the target object. After establishing the electrostatic force, a propulsion system of the reorbiter is operated to provide thrust. Thrust is directed to change the orbit and/or position of the target object that is being moved by the electrostatic force between the reorbiter and the target object.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: June 22, 2010
    Date of Patent: June 26, 2012
    Inventors: Daniel F. Moorer, Jr., Hanspeter Schaub
  • Patent number: 8196870
    Abstract: A tool for fuelling an unprepared or partially prepared client satellite required for accessing, opening and closing a fuel fill valve on the satellite being serviced, storage and retrieval stations on a tool caddy on which the tools and various fuel fill valve caps are stored. The tool includes interchangeable socket modules, a support frame, a socket module holder mechanism, a socket drive mechanism, a clamping mechanism to secure the tool to a reaction area on the fuel fill valve and oxidizer fill valve, and a valve actuation mechanism. The interchangeable socket modules include a first module for removing and replacing the access valve cap, a second module for coupling the fuel fill line to the fuel tank, a third module for engaging the access valve cap on the oxidizer fill valve, and a fourth module for coupling the oxidizer fill line to the oxidizer tank.
    Type: Grant
    Filed: December 12, 2011
    Date of Patent: June 12, 2012
    Assignee: MacDonald Dettwiler & Associates Inc.
    Inventors: Lawrence Gryniewski, Derry Crymble
  • Publication number: 20120138749
    Abstract: A solar sail spacecraft is designed to steer and move in space by using solar radiation pressure as a driving force, therefore allowing fuelless propulsion, station keeping and attitude control. A solar power satellite utilizes thrusters only to stay in an rather stationary orbit. Its purpose is, to collect energy and transfer it to a given location, usually to Earth. The intention of the present invention is to create a hybrid of a solar sail spacecraft and a power satellite for space based power generation and transmission, which is mobile and provides both, fuelless solar sailing and electric thrusters as means of propulsion. The mobile Solar Sail Power Station serves as solar energy collector and can be connected by docking with other power stations and with a transmitter unit for energy transmission, whereby the transmitter features its own fuelless pointing and attitude control devices.
    Type: Application
    Filed: January 9, 2012
    Publication date: June 7, 2012
    Inventor: Frank Werner Ellinghaus