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Monday, May 21, 2018

Draper Guides Cygnus to Ninth Cargo Mission to Space Station

CAMBRIDGE, MA—An Orbital ATK Antares rocket lifted the ninth operational Cygnus cargo resupply spacecraft into orbit for a mission to the International Space Station at 4:44 a.m. EDT May 21 at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.

Using maneuvers enabled by software developed by Draper, the Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft will resupply the Expedition 55 crew with new science experiments, crew supplies, station hardware and gear that will be installed on a June 14 spacewalk.

The S.S. J.R. Thompson spacecraft is packed with 7,385 pounds (3,350 kilograms) of supplies. The Cygnus spacecraft incorporates advanced avionics and guidance and navigation components that allow for fully autonomous rendezvous with the space station.

The OA-9 mission is the first of two planned Orbital-ATK resupply missions to the space station in 2018.

Draper has been a mission partner on Cygnus since the spacecraft assumed commercial resupply missions of the ISS from the Space Shuttle. Draper provides the fault-tolerant computer design, the guidance, navigation and targeting software, and the software that enables Cygnus to rendezvous and berth with the ISS.

Orbital ATK's Antares awaits lift off at Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. The Cygnus spacecraft launched May 21 to deliver 3 1/2 tons of supplies and science experiments to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA Photo credit: NASA Photo credit: NASA Cygnus OA-8 approaching the International Space Station. File photo: NASA
Capabilities Used
Positioning, Navigation & Timing (PNT)

Draper develops novel PN&T solutions by combining precision instrumentation, advanced hardware technology, comprehensive algorithm and software development skills, and unique infrastructure and test resources to deploy system solutions. The scope of these efforts generally focuses on guidance, navigation, and control GN&C-related needs, ranging from highly accurate, inertial solutions for (ICBMs) and inertial/stellar solutions for SLBMs, to integrated Inertial Navigation System(INS)/GPS solutions for gun-fired munitions, to multisensor configurations for soldier navigation in GPS-challenged environments. Emerging technologies under development that leverage and advance commercial technology offerings include celestial navigation (compact star cameras), inertial navigation (MEMS, cold atom sensors), precision time transfer (precision optics, chip-scale atomic clocks) and vision-based navigation (cell phone cameras, combinatorial signal processing algorithms).

Autonomous Systems

Draper combines mission planning, PN&T, situational awareness, and novel GN&C designs to develop and deploy autonomous platforms for ground, air, sea and undersea needs. These systems range in complexity from human-in-the-loop to systems that operate without any human intervention. The design of these systems generally involves decomposing the mission needs into sets of scenarios that result in trade studies that lead to an optimized solution with key performance requirements.  Draper continues to advance the field of autonomy through research in the areas of mission planning, sensing and perception, mobility, learning, real-time performance evaluation and human trust in autonomous systems.

Precision Instrumentation

Draper develops precision instrumentation systems that exceed the state-of-the-art in key parameters (input range, accuracy, stability, bandwidth, ruggedness, etc.) that are designed specifically to operate in our sponsor’s most challenging environments (high shock, high temperature, radiation, etc.).  As a recognized leader in the development and application of precision instrumentation solutions for platforms ranging from missiles to people to micro-Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Draper finds or develops state-of-the-art components (gyros, accelerometers, magnetometers, precision clocks, optical systems, etc.) that meet the demanding size, weight, power and cost needs of our sponsors and applies extensive system design capabilities consisting of modeling, mechanical and electrical design, packaging and development-level testing to realize instrumentation solutions that meet these critical and demanding needs.

Fault-Tolerant Systems

Draper has developed mission-critical fault-tolerant systems for more than four decades. These systems are deployed in space, air, and undersea platforms that require extremely high reliability to accomplish challenging missions. These solutions incorporate robust hardware and software partitioning to achieve fault detection, identification and reconfiguration. Physical redundancy or multiple, identical designs protect against random hardware failures and employ rigor in evaluating differences in computed results to achieve exact consensus, even in the presence of faults. The latest designs leverage cost-effective, multicore commercial processors to implement software-based redundancy management systems in compact single-board layouts that perform the key timing, communication, synchronization and voting algorithm functions needed to maintain seamless operation after one, two or three arbitrary faults of individual components.

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