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Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control

spin and 3–Axis stabilisation methods.

Luiz Carlos Gadelha


UFABC
Satellite stabilisation
When the satellite is placed into stable orbit by a rocket then the
initial attitude of the satellite is set by firing the jet thrusters.
The initial attitude of the satellite must be maintained by a
stabilization process.
Basically, there are two different stabilisation techniques:
spin (rotation) and 3–axis stabilisation
Satellite stabilisation
A typical spin stabilised satellite is done by single spin or dual spin both creating an inertial
stiffness. Usually, the satellite spin axis is maintained perpendicular to the equatorial plane.

Once the satellite is stabilized the antenna, solar panels and sensors are oriented,
the reaction wheel or flywheel. Again the gyroscopic effect keeps the satellite
oriented with proper attitude.

Figure shows the three axis and dual spin satellite stabilization
Three axis stabilisation
The three axis stabilisation is performed by rotation around three
axis called roll, pitch, and yaw to achieve attitude control.
Yaw axis: Directed towards the earth’s centre.
Pitch axis: Normal to the orbital plane.
Roll axis: Tangent to the orbit.
Three reactions wheel or flywheels one for each axis is put into motion
to provide gyroscopic effect to stabilize the satellite.
There is the possibility to correct any axis by firing thrusters in proper
direction controlling the reactions wheel or flywheel motor speed
(desaturation process).
Three axis stabilisation
Three axis stabilization is more accurate than spin so it is used for pointing
antennas, solar panels and telescopy.
The satellite ACS uses sensors to observe external reference points like sun,
stars and etc. The controller manages by a control law the reactions wheel ,
flywheels momentum and thrusters the usual actuators of the ACS.
satellite stabilisation : Advantages / Disadvantages
Spin-stabilized spacecraft provide a continuous sweeping motion that is
desirable for some optical scanning instruments, but they may require
complicated systems to de-spin antennas or optical instruments that must be
pointed at targets for science observations or communications with Earth.

Three-axis stabilized spacecraft can point optical instruments and antennas


without having to de-spin them, but they may have to carry out special
rotating manoeuvres. If thrusters are used for routine stabilization, optical
observations manoeuvres to get imaging is always slowly and not always
exactly predictably. So reaction wheels are more advisable.

Flywheels provide more steadier motions to make observations, but they add
mass to the spacecraft, they have a limited mechanical lifetime, and they
require frequent momentum desaturation manoeuvres, which can perturb
navigation control because of accelerations imparted by using thrusters.

As a result, spin or three-axis stabilization to control 1 or 3-axis stabilization,


by thrusters or reaction wheels or any combinations will depend on the space
mission objective. Besides, the ACS is limited by board computer memory to
run sophisticated software.
STABILITY - TORQUE-FREE MOTION
4) Investigate the stability of a rigid body in torque-free motion, considering that its
angular velocity vector directed along the principal body z axis is ωz=ω0k, where ω0 is
constant, the nutation angle is zero and there is no precession. In that case the
perturb motion is slightly, so that
ωx = δωx ωy = δωy ωz = ω0 + δωz

where δωx << ω0 and δωy << ω0 and for torque-free motion the Euler’s equations are

Aω˙x + (C − B)ωy ωz = 0
Bω˙y + (A − C)ωx ωz = 0
Cω˙z + (B − A)ωx ωy = 0

Hint :
a) Substituting the pertubations into the Euler equations and keeping in mind that dω0 /dt = 0.
b) In the pertubed Euler equations neglect all products of the δωs (they are arbitrarily small).
c) From (b) it is possible to shown that that δωz is constant.
d) After that by differentiating Equation in x and substituting it in equation y , it is possible to find
both solutions and investigate the stability of the susyem in terms of A,B and C.

5) For the previous system, find the rotary kinetic energy equations of motion for the case (A=B)
and its derivative in relation to time to investigate the news conditions of stability in terms of A, B
and B.
STABILITY - TORQUE-FREE MOTION
4)The figure shows the body x, y and z axis with ωz=ω0k, ω0 is cte. The nutation angle
is zero and there is no precession. In that case the perturb motion is slightly, so that

ωx = δωx ωy = δωy ωz = ω0 + δωz

where δωx << ω0 and δωy << ω0 and for torque-free motion the Euler’s equations are
Aδω˙x + (C − B)ω0δωy =
0
Bδω˙y + (A − C)ω0δωx =
0
Cδω˙z = 0
• If k >0, then δω ∝e±i
• √
• kt ,
k = ((A − C)(B − C) ω0 **2)/AB
±i√kt
If k > 0, then δω ∝ e

If k > 0 one has C >A and C >B or C < A and C < B That is, if the spin axis is either the major
or minor axis of inertia, the motion is stable.

If k < 0 one has C < A and C > B or C > A and C < B That is, spin axis is the intermediate axis
of inertia, the motion is unstable.
STABILITY - TORQUE-FREE MOTION
5) For the previous system, find the rotary kinetic energy equations of motion for the case (A=B)
and its derivative in relation to time to investigate the news conditions of stability in terms of A, B
and C.

𝑇 = 1/2 𝐴𝜔𝑡2 + 𝐶𝜔32 differentiating

𝑑𝑇
𝑑𝜔𝑡2 2𝐶 𝑑𝑇
= ( 𝑑𝑡 ) ; <0 satellites with dissipation
𝑑𝑡 𝐴 𝐶−𝐴 𝑑𝑡

𝒅𝝎𝟐𝒕
< 0 if C > A (oblate spinner)
𝒅𝒕

𝒅𝝎𝟐𝒕
> 0 if C < A (prolate spinner)
𝒅𝒕
Attitude Control using three Reactions Wheels
6) A spacecraft has three identical reactions wheels with their spin axes aligned with the vehicle’s
principal body axes. The spin axes of momentum wheels 1, 2 and 3 are aligned with the x, y and z axes,
respectively. The inertia tensors of the rotationally symmetric momentum wheels and spacecraft about
their centers of mass are

𝐼 0 0 𝐽 0 0 𝐽 0 0 𝐴 0 0
𝐼𝑤1 = 0 𝐽 0 𝐼𝑤2 = 0 𝐼 0 𝐼𝑤3 = 0 𝐽 0 𝐼𝑆 = 0 𝐵 0
0 0 𝐽 0 0 𝐽 0 0 𝐼 0 0 𝐶
Attitude Control using three Reactions Wheels
Considering that the angular velocity of the spacecraft are ω = (ωx , ωy , ωz) and the
reaction wheels angular velocities ωi = (ω(1) , ω(2), ω(3)) relative to the spacecraft, find
the Euler equations of motions

𝑑
ℎ+𝜔×ℎ =𝜏
𝑑𝑡

ℎ = ℎ𝑠 + ℎ𝑤i

ℎ𝑠 = 𝐼𝑠ω ; ℎ𝑤i = (ω + ωi)Iwi ; i=1,2,3


Some references
• M. H. Kaplan, “Modern spacecraft dynamics & control”. Wiley, 1976.
• V. A. Chobotov. “Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control”. Krieger, 1991.
• Bong Wie. “Space Vehicle Dynamics and Control”. AIAA, 1998.
• M. D. Shuster, “A Survey of Attitude Representations,” The Journal of the
Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 41, No. 4, 1993, pp. 439–517.
• A. C. Santana, L. S. Martins-Filho, R. O. Duarte, G. Arantes Jr, I. R. S. Casella,
"Attitude control of a satellite by using digital signal processing". Journal of
Aerospace Technology and Management, v. 4, p. 15-24, 2012.
• L. S. Martins-Filho, A. C. Santana, R. O. Duarte, G. Arantes Jr, "Processor-in-
the-Loop Simulations Applied to the Design and Evaluation of a Satellite
Attitude Control". In: J. Awrejcewicz (Org.), Computational and Numerical
Simulations. InTech, 2014.
• A. Isidori, "Nonlinear Control Systems". Springer, 1985.
• J.-J. Slotine, W. Li, "Applied Nonlinear Control", , Prentice-Hall, 1991.
• T. Çimen, "State-Dependent Riccati Equation (SDRE) Control: A Survey".
Proc. of 17th World Congress IFAC, Korea, 2008