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Architectural elements of hybrid navigation systems for future space transportation

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Abstract

The fundamental limitations of inertial navigation, currently employed by most launchers, have raised interest for GNSS-aided solutions. Combination of inertial measurements and GNSS outputs allows inertial calibration online, solving the issue of inertial drift. However, many challenges and design options unfold. In this work we analyse several architectural elements and design aspects of a hybrid GNSS/INS navigation system conceived for space transportation. The most fundamental architectural features such as coupling depth, modularity between filter and inertial propagation, and open-/closed-loop nature of the configuration, are discussed in the light of the envisaged application. Importance of the inertial propagation algorithm and sensor class in the overall system are investigated, being the handling of sensor errors and uncertainties that arise with lower grade sensory also considered. In terms of GNSS outputs we consider receiver solutions (position and velocity) and raw measurements (pseudorange, pseudorange-rate and time-difference carrier phase). Receiver clock error handling options and atmospheric error correction schemes for these measurements are analysed under flight conditions. System performance with different GNSS measurements is estimated through covariance analysis, being the differences between loose and tight coupling emphasized through partial outage simulation. Finally, we discuss options for filter algorithm robustness against non-linearities and system/measurement errors. A possible scheme for fault detection, isolation and recovery is also proposed.

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Notes

  1. The underscript \(\mathsf {sf}\) stands for specific force, i.e. acceleration of non-gravitational origin.

  2. This is the point, on the line-of-sight from receiver to satellite i, that lies at the altitude of 50 percentile of residual ionosphere, i.e. the altitude at which half of the VTEC from receiver altitude to infinity is achieved.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank ESA, Guidance, Navigation and Control Section at the European Space Research and Technology Centre for granting the funding, through the Network/Partnering Initiative Contract 4000111837/14/NL/MH, which enabled this research. In addition, the authors would like to thank Samir Bennani from the Guidance, Navigation and Control Section at ESA, and Oliver Montenbruck, Markus Markgraf and Benjamin Braun from the German Space Operations Center of DLR for the support to this work.

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Trigo, G.F., Theil, S. Architectural elements of hybrid navigation systems for future space transportation. CEAS Space J 10, 231–250 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12567-017-0187-z

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