Text Size

The Calm After the STORRM
By: Amy Johnson

After much work and anticipation, STORRM, or Sensor Test for Orion Relative Navigation Risk Mitigation, was successfully demonstrated during Endeavour’s recent mission to the International Space Station.

During two different flight days astronauts tested out the new navigation and docking system, first on their initial approach to the ISS and later during an unprecedented on-orbit maneuver where Commander Mark Kelly took the shuttle on an Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle-like approach to the ISS.

EVA with Langley box.
Click to enlarge

Extra-vehicular activity (EVA) with Langley-built avionics box. Credit: NASA

RPM image of box.
Click to enlarge

STORRM's avionics box, designed and built by Langley engineers. Credit: NASA

The goal of STORRM is to validate a new relative navigation sensor based on advanced laser and detector technology that will make docking and undocking to the ISS and other spacecraft much easier and safer.

STORRM hardware includes a laser-based a state-of-the art Vision Navigation Sensor (VNS), a high-resolution docking camera, an avionics assembly consisting of a power distribution unit, data recorder unit, and memory storage which communicates to a space-certified laptop. Reflective docking targets that were installed on the space station during STS-131 provide a cooperative target for the VNS.

Data collected by STORRM will be used to validate new sensor and laser technology that will make it safer for astronauts docking to the International Space Station.

"Our success collecting all this data was a team effort that crossed multiple NASA centers, Langley, Johnson Space Center, Kennedy Space Center, Goddard Space Flight Center, and industry partners Lockheed Martin and Ball Aerospace Technology Corporation," said Frank Novak, STORRM project manager at NASA Langley. "The STORRM teams owe a tremendous debt to STS-134 astronauts Mission Specialist Drew Feustel and Commander Mark Kelly for operating our hardware and executing the Orion like re-rendezvous."

STORRM collected 600 gigabytes of data and the VNS performed better than expected, providing continuous measurements from as far away as three-and-a-half miles to within six feet of the space station – three times the range capability of the current relative navigation sensor.

The STORRM team worked nights, weekends and holidays to make an aggressive schedule, getting all the components ready in half the usual time required for such a system manifested for a shuttle payload.

The next step is for the Langley team to travel to Kennedy Space Center where they will perform a health check on the STORRM VNS and docking camera before returning the hardware to Lockheed Martin.

"The next two weeks we will be downloading all the data from the Avionics Enclosure Assembly memory boards in the Space Shuttle Processing Facility," said Novak. "The data will be formatted and transferred to Johnson Space Center for processing."

STORRM is led by NASA's Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle Project Office at Johnson Space Center in partnership with NASA Langley and industry partners.

NASA Langley provided engineering management, design and build of avionics, design, build and testing of retro-reflectors and computer hardware.

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Managing Editor: Jim Hodges
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman