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Back in 2007, FreeFlyer 5.6 was due for an upgrade and we readied the next version as usual, tentatively deemed version 5.7. However, this new version had a completely revamped User Interface, the first orbit determination suite, and several other features that made us view it as not just a major release, but a game-changing release. Thus we decided to call it FreeFlyer 6.0.
Now as we near 2015, a.i. solutions is excited to announce that the next version of FreeFlyer will also be a game-changer, and we’re going to call it FreeFlyer 7.0. While the full list of new features is not ready to share yet, we can share the two that warrant the most attention:
The Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (MPCV) is currently being developed to transport humans beyond Low Earth Orbit. Its maiden test flight, Engineering Flight Test 1 (EFT-1), is scheduled to launch on December 4th atop a Delta 4 Heavy launcher. The flight is to be controlled from the NASA Johnson Space Center, where a new ground system is under development to support mission operations. The EFT-1 ground system uses FreeFlyer to provide flight dynamics computations during planning, training, and real-time operations. The FreeFlyer-based components of the JSC ground system include trajectory propagation, acquisitions, and orbit determination. This example FreeFlyer visualization depicts the orbital path of MPCV as it passes its maximum mission altitude of more than 3,600 miles.
a.i. solutions is pleased to announce that FreeFlyer 6.11 is now available for download! This new release contains a host of new functionality as well as enhancements to existing capabilities.
To support our growing list of customers and missions that use FreeFlyer operationally for Orbit Determination (OD), we put a heavy focus on upgrading the FreeFlyer OD system across the board in this new release. FreeFlyer 6.11 includes multiple new options for processing and analyzing spacecraft tracking data, resulting in both faster performance and increased accuracy. Here’s a detailed look at what’s new in FreeFlyer 6.11:
Inclusion of the Variational Equations for Orbit Determination processing and covariance propagation
Orbit Determination solutions in the Equinoctial element set
Addition of Right Ascension and Declination measurement processing
Multiple additions to the BatchLeastSquaresOD object
Improved support of BRTS and TDRS Tracking Data processing
Allow control over FreeFlyer’s Integrated Development Environment (IDE)
Miscellaneous Enhancements and improvements
The space community was abuzz recently about a close approach of the comet Siding Spring with Mars. a.i. solutions’ FreeFlyer Tech Support engineer Michael Barton created a FreeFlyer video depicting the fly-by, along with the orbits of several Mars and Earth orbiting spacecraft.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a free copy of the Mission Plan!
Among the many new features available in FreeFlyer 6.11, users now have the option to use FreeFlyer in one of three modes:
These new Execute Only options may be advantageous when FreeFlyer is being run in an operational satellite ground system. As an example, key personnel may have access to read, write, and execute Mission Plan files, while restricting mission operators to using the Execute Only mode for added security control.
The a.i. solutions Polaris development platform is gaining traction for a variety of different use cases. Recently, a.i. solutions Senior Software Engineer and Polaris creator Sean Phillips worked with Senior Systems Engineer Dr. Diane Davis to tackle one tough problem: designing interplanetary spacecraft trajectories for navigating planet-moon systems.
Starting with a three-body system of Saturn, Titan, and a spacecraft, the goal was to develop a tool that quickly and easily identifies trajectories to satisfy various mission constraints – for example, starting from a Saturn-centered orbit, entering into the vicinity of Titan and achieving a long-term science orbit around the smaller body. Such scenarios have been studied previously, including by Davis as part of her PhD research at Purdue University. This Saturn-Titan gravity system is not only extremely complex, but also potentially chaotic from a mission planning perspective – very small deltas in initial position and velocity can have drastic differences in the end orbit state.
While reliable tools like MATLAB were used for previous analyses, interpreting the results and changing parameters on the fly proved tedious and time consuming. To address this challenge, Phillips created a JavaFX-based tool utilizing the Polaris platform to select and visualize an entire catalog of orbital cross-sections that fit the desired criteria.
According to Phillips, now that the tool is working based off a simplified 3-body gravitational model, the next step is to use FreeFlyer to implement a two-level corrector and achieve similar trajectories in a full force model.
Interested in trying out FreeFlyer to explore all of its powerful capabilities? Contact us at email@example.com for a free 30-day license and see for yourself why it’s the most powerful software available today for space mission design, analysis, and operational use.