Control performance simulation and tests for Microgravity Active vibration Isolation System onboard the Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft

Abstract

The Microgravity Active vibration Isolation System (MAIS), which was onboard China’s first cargo-spacecraft Tianzhou-1 launched on April 20, 2017, aims to provide high-level microgravity at an order of 10-5–10-6g for specific scientific experiments. MAIS is mainly composed of a stator and a floater, and payloads are mounted on the floater. Sensing relative motion with respect to the stator fixed on the spacecraft, the floater is isolated from vibration on the stator via control forces and torques generated by electromagnetic actuators. This isolation results in a high-level microgravity environment. Before MAIS was launched into space, its control performance had been simulated on computers and tested by air-bearing platform levitation and aircraft parabolic flight. This article first presents an overview of the MAIS’s hardware system, particularly system structure, measurement sensors, and control actuators. Its system dynamics, state estimation, and control laws are then discussed, followed by the results of computer simulation and engineering tests, including the test of the six-degree-of-freedom motion by aircraft parabolic flight. Simulation and test results verify the accuracy of the control strategy design, effectiveness of the control algorithms, and performance of the entire control system, paving the way for operation of MAIS in space. This article also presents the steps recommended for the control performance simulation and tests of MAIS-like devices. These devices are expected to be used on China’s Space Station for various scientific experiments that require a high-level microgravity environment.

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Acknowledgements

The authors gratefully acknowledge DLR for providing us the opportunity to attend the 27th parabolic flight campaign and Novespace for the support for the test of MAIS by the Airbus A310 ZERO-G. The authors would also like to thank Weijia Ren, Xiaoru Sang, Shimeng Lv, Peng Yang, Yu-e Gao, Lingcai Song, Mengxi Yu, Boqi Kang, Yanlin Zhou, and Anping Wang, who have contributed significantly to the MAIS project.

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Correspondence to Wei Liu.

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Wei Liu received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in spacecraft dynamics and control from Beijing Institute of Technology, China, in 2010 and 2013, respectively. He is studying for a doctoral degree at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. Since 2013, he has joined Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His academic interest includes spacecraft dynamics and control, microgravity active vibration isolation control, and drag-free control.

Yongkang Zhang received his B.S., M.S. and Ph.D. from the University of Science and Technology, China, majoring in control science and control engineering. He is currently an associate research fellow at Technology and Engineering Center of Space Utilization, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has participated in many space utilization missions for China Manned spacecraft program. His research interests include intelligent motion control, high-reliability mechatronics.

Zongfeng Li received his Ph.D. in computing application technology from Chinese Academy of Sciences. Since 2010, he has joined Technology and Engineering Center for Space Utilization, Chinese Academy of Sciences. His academic interest includes microgravity active vibration isolation control, space structure and mechanism.

Wenbo Dong received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Tsinghua University and received his Ph.D. degree from Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is currently an associate research professor at Technology and Engineering Center of Space Utilization, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He has participated in many space utilization missions for China Manned Spacecraft Program, and is the principle investigator of MAIS in TZ-1. His research interests include microgravity facilities, high-reliability mechatronics and control system in microgravity.

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Liu, W., Zhang, Y., Li, Z. et al. Control performance simulation and tests for Microgravity Active vibration Isolation System onboard the Tianzhou-1 cargo spacecraft. Astrodyn 2, 339–360 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42064-018-0028-7

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Keywords

  • Microgravity Active vibration
  • Isolation System
  • system dynamics modelling
  • controller design
  • vibration attenuation performance
  • computer simulation
  • air-bearing platform levitation
  • aircraft parabolic flight