Application of synchronization to formation flying spacecraft: Lagrangian approach

Soon Jo Chung, Umair Ahsun, Jean Jacques E. Slotine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a unified synchronization framework with application to precision formation flying spacecraft. Central to the proposed innovation, in applying synchronization to both translational and rotational dynamics in the Lagrangian form, is the use of the distributed stability and performance analysis tool, called contraction analysis that yields exact nonlinear stability proofs. The proposed decentralized tracking control law synchronizes the attitude of an arbitrary number of spacecraft into a common time-varying trajectory with global exponential convergence. Moreover, a decentralized translational tracking control law based on oscillator phase synchronization is presented, thus enabling coupled translational and rotational maneuvers. Although the translational dynamics can be adequately controlled by linear control laws, the proposed method permits highly nonlinear systems with nonlinearly coupled inertia matrices such as the attitude dynamics of spacecraft whose large and rapid slew maneuvers justify the nonlinear control approach. The proposed method integrates both the trajectory tracking and synchronization problems in a single control framework.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-526
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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