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Published June 2015 | Published
Book Section - Chapter Open

Nonlinear Attitude Control of Spacecraft with a captured asteroid


One of the main control challenges of National Aeronautics and Space Administration's proposed Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM) is to stabilize and control the attitude of the spacecraft-asteroid combination in the presence of large uncertainty in the physical model of a captured asteroid. We present a new robust nonlinear tracking control law that guarantees global exponential convergence of the system's attitude trajectory to the desired attitude trajectory. In the presence of modeling errors and disturbances, this control law is finite-gain L_p stable and input-to-state stable. We also present a few extensions of this control law, such as exponential tracking control on SO(3) and integral control, and show its relation to the well-known tracking control law for Euler-Lagrangian systems. We show that the resultant disturbance torques for control laws that use feed-forward cancellation is comparable to the maximum control torque of the conceptual ARM spacecraft and such control laws are therefore not suitable. We then numerically compare the performance of multiple viable attitude control laws, including the robust nonlinear tracking control law, nonlinear adaptive control, and derivative plus proportional-derivative linear control. We conclude that under very small modeling uncertainties, which can be achieved using online system identification, the robust nonlinear tracking control law that guarantees globally exponential convergence to the fuel-optimal reference trajectory is the best strategy as it consumes the least amount of fuel. On the other hand, in the presence of large modeling uncertainties and actuator saturations, a simple derivative plus proportional-derivative (D+PD) control law is effective, and the performance can be further improved by using the proposed nonlinear tracking control law that tracks a (D+PD)-control-based desired attitude trajectory. We conclude this paper with specific design guidelines for the ARM spacecraft for efficiently stabilizing a tumbling asteroid and spacecraft combination.

Additional Information

© 2015 California Institute of Technology. We would like to thank Fred Y. Hadaegh, A. Miguel San Martin and Gurkipal Singh for their valuable inputs. This research was supported by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. © 2015 California Institute of Technology.

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September 15, 2023
September 15, 2023