UCLA Extension

Spacecraft Dynamics, Control, and Attitude Determination

This course provides participants with the fundamental knowledge and hands-on experience to design a spacecraft or satellite attitude control system. The focus is on modern practical design and analysis methods illustrated by real spacecraft design from industry.

The course covers seven major topic areas with hands-on lab exercises:

  • Spacecraft Attitude Control Overview
  • Spacecraft Dynamics
  • Spacecraft Attitude Control
  • Spacecraft Payload Control
  • Spacecraft Sensor/Actuator Dynamics and Modeling
  • Spacecraft Attitude Determination
  • Design Case Studies

Although designed for practitioners, the fundamental theory behind the design methods also is highlighted and derived. More importantly, numerous modern real-life spacecraft attitude control design examples, such as Spaceway, ACROSS II and Cassini, are illustrated in detail using the latest tools developed in MATLAB/SIMULINK.

Using the design methodologies and tools presented in this course, participants should be able to begin modeling spacecraft dynamics in detail, design basic spacecraft attitude control systems, attitude determination algorithm, and perform trade-off study on approaches, hardware, and performance requirements.

UCLA Extension has presented this highly successful short course since 2008. Over years, hundreds of aerospace engineers have taken this course throughout the country.

Course Materials

The text, Spacecraft Dynamics and Control: A Practical Engineering Approach, Marcel J. Sidi (Cambridge Aerospace Series, 1997); examples and demos; and published papers are distributed on the first day of the course. The notes are for participants only and are not for sale.

Coordinator and Lecturer

Richard Y. Chiang, PhD, Sr. Engineering Specialist at Control Analysis Department, The Aerospace Corporation. Dr. Chiang is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in robust control system design and system identification. He is the leading author on the MATLAB software, Robust Control Toolbox, of which nearly 25,000 copies have been sold worldwide across industries and academia for the last 29+ years. His modern robust control design methodology has become a universal standard in the field. Dr. Chiang began his career in 1979 as a control system analyst at Garrett AiResearch. During the 1990s, he also worked for Northrop Aircraft on F-18 supermaneuver flight control and at JPL on large space structure vibration control. Since joining Boeing in the late ’90s, he has designed attitude control systems for 15+ satellites and analyzed system stability for 20+ programs. Since 2016, Dr. Chiang has joined The Aerospace Corp. and monitored several key national space programs. He has taught senior control courses at USC since 1995; given control seminars at DEC, Northrop, General Dynamics, and JPL in the 1990s and several at Boeing from 2002 to 2015. He is an instructor of two other UCLA Extension courses on robust control and MATLAB analysis. Dr. Chiang also has published 17 journal papers and 28 conference papers, and has 8 issued U.S. patents and 4 patent applications pending related to spacecraft control system design. He is an Associate Fellow of AIAA and a Senior Member of IEEE.

Davin Swanson,
PhD, Systems Director, The Aerospace Corporation. After joining The Aerospace Corporation in 2003, Dr. Swanson spent over a decade supporting multiple space programs in the areas of spacecraft and payload attitude determination and control. His specific areas of expertise are gimbaled payload control, line-of-sight determination, control-structures interaction, control systems engineering, and high frequency jitter evaluation. He has been a member of the NASA Engineering and Safety Center Guidance, Navigation, and Control Technical Discipline Team and has chaired multiple unclassified and classified sessions at the American Astronautical Society Guidance and Control Conference.

Course Outline

Spacecraft Attitude Control Overview (Swanson) 1st day 8:30am-12:00pm

  • Spacecraft systems
  • What is a spacecraft attitude control system (ACS) and its functions?
  • Types of attitude control systems
  • Brief history of spacecraft ACS for the past 50 years
  • ACS design objectives
  • ACS control types
  • Disturbance torques: environmental, solar pressure, gravity gradient
  • ACS control and sensing hardware (functional overview)
  • ACS system engineering
    —Design requirements, momentum budget, pointing budget
  • ACS mode and fault autonomy
  • Geosynchronous spacecraft mission sequence of events
  • System theory basics
    —Vector/matrix, Laplace transform, transfer function, state-space
    —Z-transform, mapping between continuous and discrete time
    —Random process
  • Lab exercise
  • References

Basic Control and Estimation Theory Review (Chiang) 1st day 1:00pm-2:30pm

  • Controls (Classical Control, Sampled Data, State-Space, Nonlinear Control, Robust Control)
  • Estimation (Random Process, Least Square, Observer, LQG)
  • Tools
  • References

Spacecraft Dynamics Modeling (Chiang) 1st day 2:30pm-5:00pm

  • Euler angles, quaternions
  • Kinematics
  • Differential Kinematics
  • Rigid body dynamics, including fundamental stability rules
  • Spinning body dynamics, including nutation, wobble, coning, dual-spin dynamics, and energy sink analyses
  • Linearized 3-axis dynamics
  • Flexible body dynamics
  • Representation of linear dynamics (in first- and second-order forms)
  • Modal analysis, model reduction
  • Dynamic modeling software tools
  • Examples: nonlinear and linear rigid, linear flexible, two body spring-mass, phenomenon of “pole-zero flipping,” full n-body models
  • Lab exercise
  • References

Spacecraft Attitude Control (Chiang) 2nd day 8:30am-12:00pm

  • Introduction
  • Actuators hardware spec, dynamics and modeling
    —RWA, CMG
    —Thrusters, optimal jet selection
    —Magnetic torquer
  • Spacecraft control
    —Gravity gradient (passive), active magnetic torqrods damping, solar tacking
    —Single- and dual-spin stabilization
    —Momentum Exchange (Momentum Biased)
    —3-axis control: RWA, CMG, RCS, beacon closed-loop control
    —Disturbance rejection: thermal snap, fuel sloshing control
  • Steering laws
  • Gyroless spacecraft control
  • Tools, GUI, examples
  • Lab exercise
  • References

Precision Payload Pointing (Swanson) 2nd day 1:00pm – 4:00pm

  • Payload control: spinning sensor, gimbaled antenna, and phased array
  • Four types of payload
  • Payload control design issues
    —Payload nonlinear dynamics modeling (friction) and control interactions
    —Control design for co-located and non-collocated “pole-zero flipping” flexible payload dynamics

—Payload LOS definitions and derivations
—Jitter analysis
—Large space structure considerations

  • Tools, GUI, examples
  • Lab exercise
  • References

Spacecraft Attitude Determination (Chiang) 3rd day 8:30am – 2:00pm

  • Basics
    —Estimation theory
    —Estimators: observers and Kalman filter theory and implementation
    —Advanced filtering techniques (EKF, UKF, H-infinity Filtering, Particle Filtering)
    —Attitude representations and kinematics
  • Sensors hardware spec, dynamics and modeling
    —IRU: modeling, noise characteristics
    —Sun/earth sensor: modeling, accuracy, noise characteristics
    —Star tracker: modeling, noise characteristics
  • Spacecraft attitude determination
    —Attitude determination algorithms: TRIAD, Kalman filter, etc.
    —Stellar inertial attitude determination
    —GPS for attitude control: modeling, accuracy, time delay
    —Comparison: performance and error budget
  • Tools, GUI, examples
  • Lab exercise
  • References

Design Case Studies and Special Topics (Chiang and guest speakers to be announced) 3rd day 2:00pm – 4:00pm

  • End-to-end spacecraft design
  • Various design case studies
  • Special topics: fuel slosh and control interactions

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For more information contact the Short Course Program Office:
shortcourses@uclaextension.edu | (310) 825-3858