2016.B.2.2. Under-actuated attitude control of CubeSats


James Biggs (1)

  1. Politecnico di Milano, Italy




underactuated spacecraft, attitude guidance and control


Fine-pointing and 3-axis stabilization of CubeSats could enable many new deep space applications. However, for a 3-axis stabilized 1U CubeSat with 3 reaction wheels, the attitude determination and control system (ADCS) could constitute up to 90% of the spacecraft’s mass. Even in the case of larger CubeSats the mass and volume requirements of the ADCS are significant. Indeed by reducing the mass, volume and power requirement of the ADCS while maintaining its pointing capability would allow additional space for payloads increasing their cost-effectiveness.

This work considers the problem of designing a CubeSat with fine-pointing capability using only two reaction wheels. Both open-loop and closed loop control algorithms are considered and the practical considerations for their effective implementation are discussed.


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