Preprint / Version 1

CLING-ERS: A Mechanism for Autonomous In-Orbit Rendezvous and Docking


  • Melodie Ebrahimi Marlborough School
  • David Barnhart



autonomous docking, aerospace engineering, space


Spacecraft Rendezvous Proximity Operations and Docking (RPO-D) is a critical function to enable endless applications in space; spacecraft servicing, orbital refueling, spacecraft repair/upgrade and manufacturing in space are just some of the applications. For these applications to occur at scale, a system must be able to “connect things” that are low weight, low cost, and have a developed computationally efficient algorithm for final dock/connect. Currently in space-to-space interactions there is not a consensus between customers, operators, manufacturers and users on a “standard” means of connecting space objects. The USC SERC created CLING-ERS as a standalone device to address a ubiquitous docking mechanism for in space interactions. CLINGERS combines a traditional mechanical interconnected with a relative navigation algorithm using Perspective-n-Point (PnP) to solve the pose estimation problem between space elements enabled with CLINGERS. Ideally any spacecraft/platform mounted with a CLING-ERS device could use its embedded navigation sensor information for autonomous docking with another object mounted with a CLING-ERS unit.


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