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AIAA Infotech@Aerospace 2010 AIAA 2010-3494

20 - 22 April 2010, Atlanta, Georgia

Robust Attitude Control for Spacecraft Based on


Normal Matrix and Pattern Search
ZHU Hong-Yu
Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing, 100191, China

In this paper, the problem of robust and precise attitude stabilization is investigated
for exible spacecraft, modeled as a rigid hub with some exible appendages attached.
The normal matrix control theory, one of the H control method, is applied to obtain the
robust control based on the normality of spacecraft attitude dynamics and the multiplicative
perturbation. The pattern search is employed to ensure the required precision for the
online tuning of parameters of controller. The same proportion-dierentiation control with
structural lter for three attitude loops can be robust control for spacecraft. The proposed
controller reduces the parameter space of the pattern search, therefore shortens the running
time and saves the computing resource. The simulation results show the eciency of the
proposed control strategy.

I. Introduction
Extra precise orientation is needed by various of space missions, such as earth observation, space science
exploration, space astronomical observation, etc. For there are fraught with uncertainties and variations
in the spacecraft, the attitude control must provide robustness to deal with the system uncertainties and
provide self-regulation or adaptiveness ability to track the creep of the dynamics parameters, and therefore
provide satisfactory performances throughout the life cycle of the mission.
Many researchers addressed this issue by various of approaches. C.-H. C. Ih et al gave an adaptive
attitude control along with an inner-loop plant augmentation and found it is robust by simulation.1 The
simple adaptive control was found can got the robust attitude control for large exible space structures.2 An
adaptive fuzzy control was used with the state feedback input-output (I/O) linearizing control to improve
the robustness of the attitude control system.3 The output feedback variable structure controllers were
designed for attitude control exible spacecraft.4, 5 The mixed H2 /H approach with fuzzy control or linear
quadratic optimal control is investigated for nonlinear spacecraft with uncertainties.6, 7 An neuro-controller
are employed in attitude tracking for the optimization of performance.8 The adaptive and robust control are
combined to obtain the performance improving of nonlinear attitude tracking.9 The hybrid sliding surface
is used in the adaptive sliding mode control to provide robustness in exible spacecraft attitude control.10
All these researches show some interesting alternatives for designing a precise robust attitude control system
for spacecraft, although the results are somewhat complex for the engineering practice.
Normal matrix is the square matrix that is multiplication commutative with its conjugate transpose.
The rst connection of normal matrix and control engineering was done by A. G. J. MacFarlane and Yeung
Sam Hung,11 they provided a quasi-classical approach, the reversed-frame normalization (RFN) approach,
which is based on the merit in the singular value decomposition of normal matrix. The normal matrix
was also linked with the H optimal robust control, based on the fact that the normal matrices enjoy the
minimum H norm among the stable matrices which have same characteristic functions.12 Thus, the H
optimal control can be achieved by designing a normal matrix transfer function (MTF) of the closed-loop
system, and the result may be simpler and more comprehensible than that of other H control approaches.
However, designing a normal matrix system is typically a dicult work, because the relationship between
the normality and the performance of a system is obscure. One of the key obstacles to the implement of RFN
is that the singular value functions are generally not the analytic functions. C. Wu et al raised a designing
approach, in which the structure of controller is xed, and the optimization is performed for a normality
Doctor, Department of Guidance, Navigation, and Control, School of Astronautics, No.37, Xueyuan Road, Haidian District.

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index.13 X. Liu et al got the normal matrix control by properly designing the row characteristic functions
of the closed-loop system.14 H.Y. Zhu gave an accessible normal matrix control law by using the inverse
additive perturbation instead of the common-used multiplicative perturbation,15 and the inverse additive
perturbation and the multiplicative perturbation are compared to nd their advantages and disadvantages
in normal matrix control.16 These works gave some helpful experiments in designing normal matrix control
systems.
In the present paper, the problem of robust precise attitude control is investigated by combining the
normal matrix control method and the pattern searching technology. A robust attitude control law is built
based on the characteristics of the spacecraft dynamics and the normal matrix control method, and then
a pattern searching algorithm is employed in the inight self-regulation of the controller to provide the
evolution of performance, and therefore the precise attitude control is obtained. Thus, the normality of the
control law ensures the stability of the system, therefore allows the searching in neighborhood to nd a better
controller out. For the structural lter is employed to isolate the vibrations induced by exible appendages,
the normal matrix control law is designed under the multiplicative perturbation. The purpose of the usage
of the multiplicative perturbation is to avoid the complications of the normalization of the control law.
The rest of the paper is organized as follows. In the next section, the attitude motion of the spacecraft
is formulated, and its normality is analyzed. Based on the analysis, the normal matrix attitude control law
is derived in Section III. The pattern searching algorithm is given in Section IV. Numerical simulations in
Section V illustrate the theoretical results of the paper. Finally, conclusions follow in Section VI.

II. System Description


Discussions in this paper are restricted to the observation spacecraft for celestial body, such as the earth,
Moon, or an asteroid, which main body can be regarded as rigid body, and have several exible appendages
attached. The governing equations of the said spacecraft can be written as17
{
I + (I + C) + C = c + d
(1)
CT + + 2c =0

where, denotes the inertial angular velocity of the spacecraft, represents the structural vibration modes
of the appendages, c and d denote the disturbance torque and the control torque, respectively; I denotes
the positive denite and symmetric inertia tensor of the spacecraft, C denotes the dynamical coupling
between the elastic vibration of the appendages and the vehicle rotational motions, c is diagonal matrices
representing the constrained modal frequencies of vibrations of the exible appendages. And

Ixx Ixy Ixz

I = Ixy Iyy Iyz (2)
Ixz Iyz Izz

c = diag{c1 , c2 , , cN } (3)
where, N denotes the number of the truncated vibration modes.
For the problem of spacecraft attitude stabilization, the governing equation Eq.(1) can be linearized
under some additional assumptions.
We assume that the spacecraft motion is generally slow and the attitude errors are relatively small, use
the 3-2-1 Euler angles = [x , y , z ]T for the representation of the attitude, and let o denote the orbit
angular velocity. The angular velocity of the spacecraft can be written as

= + o [z , 1, x ]T (4)

Substitute Eq.(4) into Eq.(1), and omit the high order innitesimal, including the square of o , we obtain
the linearized attitude dynamics equations as following,
{
I + C = c + d
(5)
CT + + 2c = 0

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For the normal matrix control approach is a frequency response method for multivariable linear systems,
we apply Laplace transform on Eq.(5), then the inverse matrix transfer function (MTF) is derived and
written as
G(s) = Is2 s4 C(EN s2 + 2c )1 CT (6)
where, EN denotes the N N identity matrix.
Although the normal matrix design can not be simplied directly when the plant is a normal matrix
object, the normality of the plant may be helpful, at least in selecting among the representations of system
uncertainty.16 So, we check the normality of the MTF Eq.(6) now.
In frequency domain, s = jw. Then, denote the conjugate transpose of matrix A as AH , for the two
terms in the left side of Eq.(6) respectively, have

Is2 = I(jw)2 = IT (jw)2 = (Is2 )T = (Is2 )H (7)

s4 C(EN s2 + 2c )1 CT = (jw)4 C(EN (jw)2 + 2c )1 CT


= (jw)4 CT (EN (jw)2 + 2c )T C
(8)
= [s4 C(EN s2 + 2c )1 CT ]T
= [s4 C(EN s2 + 2c )1 CT ]H
both are Hermitian matrices in real domain, the real symmetric matrices. Then, the sum of them is a real
symmetric matrix too. The real symmetric matrices is included in the normal matrices. So, the inverse
MTF Eq.(6) is a normal matrix. We know that the inverse of normal matrix is also a normal matrix if the
inversion exists, and a polynomial matrix is singular if and only if it is a constant. It is typically impossible
that an MTF is a constant. Thus, we can say the matrix transfer function of spacecraft attitude dynamics
is a normal matrix.

III. Normal-Matrix Attitude Control Law


In the above section, we found that the matrix transfer function derived from the linearized dynamics
equation of spacecraft attitude, is a normal matrix. The normality can be helpful in building a normal
matrix control law with a simple structure.
First, we consider how to obtain a normal matrix control for a normal matrix plant.
When the systems uncertainty is described by the multiplicative perturbation, the robust optimal system
can be obtained by designing a normal open loop MTF,13 i.e.,

[G(s)K(s)][G(s)K(s)]H = [G(s)K(s)]H [G(s)K(s)] (9)

for the plant G(s) and its controller K(s).


For our attitude dynamics is a normal matrix, and G(s) = GH (s), Eq.(9) becomes

G(s)K(s)KH (s)G(s) = KH (s)G2 (s)K(s) (10)

This is a matrix quadratic equation for the function K(s). It is dicult to solve.
Fortunately, if K(s) is a diagonal matrix, and the diagonal elements are same, the equation Eq.(10) can
be satised. That is to say, the robust attitude control can be acquired by designing one controller for all
the three axes. Obviously, this needs the tradeo among the three axes of attitude control. The diagonal
control strategy is acceptable, for the vehicle-xed coordinate frame is typically along the principal axes of
inertia, and can provide satised performance.
For precise control, the vibrations induced by exibility must be considered in designing. The structural
lters are prefer for dealing with this issue.18 For the poles are same for all of the elements of MTF of
spacecraft attitude dynamics,19 we can design one structural lter for all the three attitude feedback loops
for the exible vibration modes compensation. For example, the bandpass lter can be used to broaden
the bandwidth of the system, therefore to achieve the precise control. Then, any control strategy can be
employed to obtain the rigid-body stabilization. For example, we can apply the common-used PID control
for achieving a simple and ecient design.

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Thus, the normal matrix control law can be as the following,

s2 + 2z p s + p2
kx (s) = ky (s) = kz (s) = (kp + kd s) (11)
s2 + 2p p s + p2

where, ki (s) (i = x, y, z) is the diagonal elements of K(s), kp and kd are position and rate gains respectively,
p is the exible mode to be suppressed, z and p are damping ratios for zero and pole of structural lter
respectively, z > p and p << 1.
As above-mentioned, for the normal matrix plant, the normal matrix robust control under the multi-
plicative perturbation can be with any complexity, and the only restriction is that the controllers for all
feedback loops are same. This will limit the usage of the proposed control, since it needs tradeo among the
performance of the loops. For example, the slender spacecraft can not be generally controlled by the same
attitude controller in three loops. Fortunately, many spacecraft, such as communication satellites, weather
satellites, generally have less dierence between the three axes. So, at least for the applications satellites,
the proposed control may be useful.
One controller for three loops has been proposed in other literatures, for example, the work based on
inverse optimal by Wencheng Luo.20 In Luos work, the controller is proved to be nonlinear H for the
attitude tracking problem.

IV. Pattern Search Algorithm


For several reasons, the online tuning of controller is needed for the improvement of control accuracy.
The parameters varies with time, the model used in designing has uncertainty, and so on. If the system
is normal matrix and therefore robust, the small changes in the parameters of controller can not alter the
stabilization of the system. Then, the online tuning can be implemented.
The generalized pattern searching is employed in the present paper for the online tuning of the parameters
of attitude control law proposed, for it can directly search a set of points around the current parameters,
and it does not require any information about the gradient or higher derivatives of the objective function,21
therefore save the computing resource, which insucient for orbiting spacecraft.
Furthermore, for there are only four adjustable parameters, kp , kd , p , and z , the searching space is of
four dimensions, and then the pattern vectors are eight, for example, in this paper,

v1 = [kp , 0, 0, 0], v2 = [0, kd , 0, 0], v3 = [0, 0, p , 0], v4 = [0, 0, 0, z ],


v5 = [kp , 0, 0, 0], v6 = [0, kd , 0, 0], v7 = [0, 0, p , 0], v8 = [0, 0, 0, z ] (12)

The mesh size is 5% of the current values for the parameter vector. Then, for the current parameter
[kp , kd , p , z ] and the pattern vector v1 , the following mesh point is

[kp , kd , p , z ] + 5%[kp , 0, 0, 0] (13)

A integral performance index is used as the objective function of the algorithm. It is


T
f= (t|e(t)| + t|u(t)|)dt (14)
0

where, e(t) is the attitude errors, u(t) is the control eorts, and T is the interval for evaluating, T = 180s in
the simulation example.
When unwanted attitude or rate values detected, the algorithm starts. First, it evaluates the performance
index Eq.(14) in the rst T for the current controller. Then, the parameter vector of the controller moves
at random along one of the pattern vectors, and the Eq.(14) is calculated in the other interval T . If the
value of f is smaller than the original and the required precision is satised, the search is successful and then
ended. otherwise, if the value of f is smaller than the original but the required precision is not satised, this
point is set to be the current, and the following search is around this point. If the value of f is larger than
the original, the alternation of controllers parameters will be tried along other pattern vectors. That is to
say, the incomplete poll is enabled to attempt to avoid some invalid operations, and therefore to quicken the
search.

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Then, if all the pattern directions are unsuccessful, the mesh size is alter to 8% or 3%, and the search
tries again. The mesh size is not increased any more to ensure the stability of system, even if the search
failed again. We will try the 3%, 5%, or 8% more times to nd a better set of parameters.
The same controller for three loops takes further advantages to the pattern searching. It reduces the
searching space. If the controllers are dierent for each loop, the searching space may be extend to 12. This
would reduce the time consumption.
Furthermore, the pattern searching can be used in the optimization of controller design, by removing
detection of large error and the required precision.

V. Simulation Results
The numerical simulation of the proposed control schemes to the attitude stabilization of a exible
spacecraft is presented using MATLAB/Simulink. The spacecraft is characterized by the inertia matrix

6400 30 20

I = 30 4700 2000 kg m2
20 2000 8000

and the coupling matrix



0.336 0 29.1 20.1 0.024
1/2
0.364 10.2 kg m/s
2
C = 18.3 19.4 0.0752
20.9 26.3 0.562 0.79 27.9

and the rst ve vibration modes have been taken into account,

c = diag{1.02, 1.24, 1.89, 2.88, 3.9}rad/s

with damping = 0.002 for all ve modes. The white noise with maximum value 4 103 N m is used for
disturbance torque. And the required precision for attitude positions are 1 105 rad.
Only the rst mode have been involved in designing of the structural lter. The original controller is
designed as
s2 + 2 0.002 1.02s + 1.022
kx (s) = ky (s) = kz (s) = (16 + 300s) 2 (15)
s + 2 0.001 1.02s + 1.022
The simulation results are shown in Fig.1, Fig.2 and Fig.3, to demonstrate the performance of the attitude
control scheme. For the purpose of comparison, the attitude history of the proposed controller without the
pattern search is shown in Fig.4, and the history of control torques and rates in Fig.5 and Fig.6.
In Fig.4, there are four times the attitude error exceed the required precision 1 105 rad, at times
t = 813.2s, t = 1211.3s, t = 2277.6s, and t = 4918.9s, respectively. Compare Fig.4 with Fig.3, only the
rst and third times trigger the search algorithm, because the controller is optimized in the two triggers and
consequently there are no the fourth time exceeding, and the searching is not nished when the second trigger
occurs. From the comparison, we can nd the degree of precision is improved after the pattern searching.
It is obvious that many searches may be in wrong directions, but the attitudes are still stable. And the
nal controller is far away from the original one. These show the robustness of the proposed normal matrix
control law.

VI. Conclusion
In the present paper, the attitude stabilization problem for a exible spacecraft is discussed. The normal
matrix control theory and the pattern search algorithm are combined to obtain a normal and precise control
with simple scheme. The analysis of the attitude model show that the related MTF is a normal matrix. This
characteristic is taken into account for designing the normal matrix control, the conditions of the normal
matrix control are derived for normal matrix plant, and the resulting is a normal matrix control law with the
same controller for all the three attitude loops. The pattern search algorithm is employed for the optimization
of performances, by the inight random searching in the neighborhoods of the controller, when the required

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4
x 10
5

control torques (Nm)

5
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
time (s)

Figure 1. The control torques history under the proposed control scheme

position precision does not be satised. The robustness achieved by normal matrix control provides the
stabilization of online tuning of parameters of controller, and the proposed normal matrix controller reduces
the searching space of the pattern search, therefore shorten the running time of the algorithm.
The model used in the present paper is simplied for the purpose of normality analysis. For precise
control, the compensations of omitted factors are preferred. However, the further compensations will alter
the normality of the system. The normalization of such control scheme will be taken into account in the
future researches.

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attitude rates (rad/s) 0.5

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Figure 2. The rate history under the proposed control scheme

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5
x 10
1.5

0.5
attitude (rad)

0.5

1.5
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
time (s)

Figure 3. The attitude history under the proposed control scheme

5
x 10
1.5

0.5
attitude (rad)

0.5

1.5
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
time (s)

Figure 4. The attitude history under the proposed controller without pattern search

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4
x 10
5

control torques (Nm)

5
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
time (s)

Figure 5. The control torques history under the proposed controller without pattern search

6
x 10
1.5

0.5
attitude rates (rad/s)

0.5

1.5
0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 6000
time (s)

Figure 6. The control torques history under the proposed controller without pattern search

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