A Manual Method for Space Rendezvous Navigation and Guidance

A general method has been developed by which an astronaut can manually navigate and guide a spacecraft to rendezvous with an orbiting target. The method is based entirely on measurements taken with hand-held, unpowered, optical instruments and manual computations using charts, graphs, slide rule, and tables. Navigation (state determination) is performed in a local vertical coordinate frame using linearized equations of motion to describe the relative motion of the interceptor. The use of a known thrust maneuver allows the astronaut to determine his relative position-velocity state completely from angle measurements made with a sextant. The guidance is performed by implementing a flight plan obtained from charts. These charts prescribe in impulsive flight plan which minimizes a linear combination of required fuel and mission time. Midcourse and terminal guidance consist of reapplication of the method based on new measurements. The effect of errors due to measurements and other sources is analyzed.