Nonlinear Control of Magnetically Actuated Spacecraft

de Angelis, Emanuele Luigi (2013) Nonlinear Control of Magnetically Actuated Spacecraft, [Dissertation thesis], Alma Mater Studiorum Università di Bologna. Dottorato di ricerca in Meccanica e scienze avanzate dell'ingegneria: progetto n. 1 "Disegno e metodi dell’ingegneria industriale e scienze aerospaziali", 25 Ciclo. DOI 10.6092/unibo/amsdottorato/5510.
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The topic of this thesis is the feedback stabilization of the attitude of magnetically actuated spacecraft. The use of magnetic coils is an attractive solution for the generation of control torques on small satellites flying inclined low Earth orbits, since magnetic control systems are characterized by reduced weight and cost, higher reliability, and require less power with respect to other kinds of actuators. At the same time, the possibility of smooth modulation of control torques reduces coupling of the attitude control system with flexible modes, thus preserving pointing precision with respect to the case when pulse-modulated thrusters are used. The principle based on the interaction between the Earth's magnetic field and the magnetic field generated by the set of coils introduces an inherent nonlinearity, because control torques can be delivered only in a plane that is orthogonal to the direction of the geomagnetic field vector. In other words, the system is underactuated, because the rotational degrees of freedom of the spacecraft, modeled as a rigid body, exceed the number of independent control actions. The solution of the control issue for underactuated spacecraft is also interesting in the case of actuator failure, e.g. after the loss of a reaction-wheel in a three-axes stabilized spacecraft with no redundancy. The application of well known control strategies is no longer possible in this case for both regulation and tracking, so that new methods have been suggested for tackling this particular problem. The main contribution of this thesis is to propose continuous time-varying controllers that globally stabilize the attitude of a spacecraft, when magneto-torquers alone are used and when a momentum-wheel supports magnetic control in order to overcome the inherent underactuation. A kinematic maneuver planning scheme, stability analyses, and detailed simulation results are also provided, with new theoretical developments and particular attention toward application considerations.


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