A Caltech Library Service

A Six Degree-of-Freedom Spacecraft Dynamics Simulator for Formation Control Research

Nakka, Yashwanth Kumar and Foust, Rebecca C. and Lupu, Elena Sorina and Elliott, David B. and Crowell, Irene S. and Chung, Soon-Jo and Hadaegh, Fred Y. (2018) A Six Degree-of-Freedom Spacecraft Dynamics Simulator for Formation Control Research. In: 2018 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference. No.AAS 18-476. AIAA , pp. 1-20.

[img] PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.

[img] PDF - Accepted Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This paper presents a new six-degree-of-freedom robotic spacecraft simulator, the Multi-Spacecraft Testbed for Autonomy Research (M-STAR), for testing formation guidance, relative navigation, and control algorithms. The simulator dynamics are governed by five degrees of frictionless translational and rotational air-bearing motion and one degree of kinematic motion in the gravity direction with flight-like actuators, in a 1-g environment. M-STAR is designed to be modular and accommodates 3-DOF, 4-DOF, 5-DOF, and 6-DOF operation with minimal mechanical modifications. The simulator is modelled as a 3-D pendulum on a floating platform with sixteen thrusters and four reaction wheels as on-board actuators. Based on this plant model, a nonlinear hierarchical control law is proposed for position and attitude trajectory tracking. A weighted generalized pseudo-inverse strategy for control allocation to map control inputs to actuator inputs is discussed. The thruster actuation model for mapping smooth allocated input to non-smooth actuator input that achieves equivalent performance is derived. The control law, allocation scheme, and thruster model are tested on the simulator for real-time position tracking control using a Robot Operating System (ROS) based software framework.

Item Type:Book Section
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription Website
Nakka, Yashwanth Kumar0000-0001-7897-3644
Foust, Rebecca C.0000-0003-1470-1716
Lupu, Elena Sorina0000-0002-3968-2630
Chung, Soon-Jo0000-0002-6657-3907
Additional Information:© 2018 AIAA. The authors acknowledge the work done by R. Eric Rasmussen at Guidance Dynamics in designing and constructing the spacecraft simulators. Many thanks to Jui Hung Sun for creating the thruster experimental setup and designing a previous version of the thruster control board, and to Karen Chen for designing the reaction wheel brackets and performing structural analysis of the reaction wheels. The work of Rebecca Foust was supported by a NASA Space Technology Research Fellowship, government sponsorship is acknowledged.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
NASA Space Technology Research FellowshipUNSPECIFIED
Other Numbering System:
Other Numbering System NameOther Numbering System ID
AIAA PaperAAS 18-476
Issue or Number:AAS 18-476
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20180816-145831065
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:88874
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:16 Aug 2018 22:36
Last Modified:10 Jun 2020 17:43

Repository Staff Only: item control page