Orbit Logic (Auria) Onboard Planning Software Enables Enhanced SSA Using Satellite Clusters

February 20, 2023

Heimdall Onboard will offload operators using clusters of satellites to autonomously maintain SSA of specified collections of space objects.

Orbit Logic (now Auria) has been awarded a Phase I Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) contract sponsored by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to develop a solution called Heimdall Onboard. The effort is a research partnership with the University of Texas at Austin (UT), with whom we previously developed a ground-based version of Heimdall (SSA Sensor Tasking)—a planning framework to optimize the use of ground- and space-based sensors to maximize resident space object situational awareness by using an information gain metric as a component of the tasking plan’s score.

Heimdall Onboard will enable a team of satellites in a cooperating cluster to perform fully automated Resident Space Object (RSO) custody maintenance of an operator-specified set of high-interest objects. The logic required to a) determine an agile schedule to acquire images using onboard sensors, b) detect objects in the images, c) determine orbits for those detections, d) associate the orbits with objects in the locally maintained onboard catalog, and e) adapt the sensor tasking plans dynamically based on uncertainties, sensor capabilities, and the relative viewing perspectives of the cluster members over time—will all be performed on the flight computers of the cluster elements using decentralized approaches to collaborative autonomy and data fusion.

This effort will integrate UT’s mature processing and fusion algorithms with the mature, flight-qualified version of Orbit Logic’s Autonomous Planning System (APS) that was developed for AFRL’s SaFIRE program, enhancing its decentralized collection planning to ensure that the observations being made by each satellite most effectively contribute to building an SSA picture of all RSOs of interest.

APS is a powerful technology that can be leveraged for autonomous planning in any domain. The breadth of its applications proves its flexibility; in addition to its use in this activity for autonomous orbital SSA, Orbit Logic has utilized APS for the autonomous operation of heterogeneous constellations of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites with DARPA and AFRL, heterogeneous teams of unmanned underwater/surface/aerial vehicles (UUVs/USVs/UAVs) with the Navy, heterogeneous swarms of rovers, satellites, and atmospheric vehicles for robotic Mars exploration, heterogeneous robotic swarms with astronauts-in-the-loop for Lunar exploration, and mission-adaptive formation flying control of satellite clusters, with NASA.

Approved for public release; Distribution is unlimited. Public Affairs approval #AFRL-2023-0545

Learn more at Auria.space and follow us on LinkedIn to keep up with the latest developments and join the conversation.

About Auria

Auria advances complex space, missile, and cyber operations with visionary solutions and software that ensure smooth and precise execution. Our success is built on the excellence of diverse teams advancing innovative systems and operational software to strengthen our nation’s superiority in space. With a distinguished track record and a spirit of relentless pursuit, we set the pace for progress and execute every mission with the utmost precision. Headquartered in Colorado Springs, CO, with operations in Boulder, CO, Washington, DC, Albuquerque, NM, Huntsville, AL, Ogden, UT, and San Diego, CA, Auria deploys advanced AI and technologies that help secure our nation and increase knowledge of our planet. For more information, visit Auria.Space.