This paper presents the development of a real-time path-planning optimization approach to controlling the motion of space-based robots. The algorithm is capable of planning three dimensional trajectories for a robot to navigate within complex surroundings that include numerous static and dynamic obstacles, path constraints and performance limitations. The methodology employs a unique transformation that enables rapid generation of feasible solutions for complex geometries, making it suitable for application to real-time operations and dynamic environments. This strategy was implemented on the Synchronized Position Hold Engage Reorient Experimental Satellite (SPHERES) test-bed on the International Space Station (ISS), and experimental testing was conducted onboard the ISS during Expedition 17 by the first author. Lessons learned from the on-orbit tests were used to further refine the algorithm for future implementations.

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Keywords International Space Station, Microgravity science, Obstacle avoidance, Space robotics, SPHERES, Trajectory optimization
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Journal Acta Astronautica
Chamitoff, G.E. (Gregory E.), Saenz-Otero, A. (Alvar), Katz, J.G. (Jacob G.), Ulrich, S, Morrell, B.J. (Benjamin J.), & Gibbens, P.W. (Peter W.). (2018). Real-time maneuver optimization of space-based robots in a dynamic environment: Theory and on-orbit experiments. Acta Astronautica, 142, 170–183. doi:10.1016/j.actaastro.2017.10.001