“Development of the methodological approaches for the attitude control system of the Earth remote sensing satellite in the conditions of the onboard equipment partial failures”

Dragonfly Aerospace’s GNC Software Engineers, Petro Zheliabov and Erik Lapkhanov, wrote a full research article discussing the “DEVELOPMENT OF THE METHODOLOGICAL APPROACHES FOR THE ATTITUDE CONTROL SYSTEM OF THE EARTH REMOTE SENSING SATELLITE IN THE CONDITIONS OF THE ONBOARD EQUIPMENT PARTIAL FAILURES”. Our company strives to support the team in their scientific endeavors. We are proud of our colleagues for this valuable contribution to the aerospace industry. Well done!


The spacecraft controllability of the angular motion is possible only with operability of the attitude and orbit control system (AOCS) of the spacecraft, sensors, actuators and the spacecraft power system. However, there is a rather significant probability of failure of this equipment during the operation of the spacecraft. This is especially observed after half of the spacecraft’s lifetime or because of emergency situations. There is a problem which is connected with providing the maximum performance of the AOCS in case of partial failures of their actuators (reaction wheels (RW), magnetorquer rods (MGTR), etc.).

Thus, the purpose of this work is the development and synthesis of special algorithms for spacecraft angular motion control in the emergency situations which are connected with RWs partial failures and restrictions of onboard electricity consumption. The approach of synthesis of this control algorithms is based on using mobile control methods which allow to reserve RWs by MGTRs. There are different variants of control loops depending on MGTRs turning on combinations. There were proposed two types of control switching functions: time-periodic and switching by deviation. Also was proposed a methodology of controller synthesis using these switching functions.

Using this methodology and computer simulation, it was shown the possibility of providing angular nadir orientation and stabilization of the spacecraft with maximum 1−1.5 deg error in case of time-periodic switching functions implementation. Switching by deviation allows to reduce onboard electricity consumption for 25−30 % comparing with using time-periodic switching. However, the accuracy of stabilization significantly lower in case of switching by deviation. Considering these estimates, the corresponding methodological recommendations were formulated for use switching functions depending on emergency.Read the full article here.

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