Original GPS Formation Flying Spacecraft

Separated Spacecraft Interferometry Application
Note: Testbed developed while at Stanford University and no longer in use

Faculty Contact: Jonathan How
Tobe Corazzini and Andrew Robertson

Original Formation Flying Testbed:

Three fully autonomous free-floating vehicles on a granite table
Onboard GPS sensors/4 antennas
Indoor GPS Pseudolite environment
Used to study estimation and control architectures for multi-vehicle formation flying
Have demonstrated cm-level station keeping accuracies with three vehicles


JPL has two proposed Deep Space Inteferometery missions:

ST-3 Space Technology 3, which is a formation flyer
TPF The Terrestrial Planet Finder, which could be a formation flyer

Both missions are planned for remote operations,

Both wouldl require onboard transceivers/ranging devices to perform the spacecraft relative navigation

We have demonstrated a similar system (a GPS "self-constellation") using onboard COTS GPS pseudolite technology.

More recent Directions

Vehicle setup for a Self-constellation

Onboard GPS Signal Augmentation for Spacecraft Formation Flying. ION98 PDF (311K)
Tobe Corazzini and J. P. How., Proceedings of the Institute of Navigation GPS-98 Conf., Sept 1998.

Next Generation of this testbed

Back to Formation Flying Main Page

GPS - Formation Flying Blimps