Impact of strain-actuated attitude control systems for variant mission classes

Vedant, Alexander Ghosh, Oscar Alvarez-Salazar, James T. Allison

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review


The University of Illinois, in collaboration with NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and NASA Ames Research Center, has developed a novel Attitude Control System (ACS) called the Strain Actuated Solar Arrays (SASA), with sub-milli-arcsecond pointing capability. SASA uses strain-producing actuators to deform flexible deployable structures, and the resulting reaction forces rotate the satellite. This momentum transfer strategy is used for jitter reduction and small-angle slew maneuvers. The system is currently at a Technology Readiness Level of 4-5 and has an upcoming demonstration flight on the CAPSat CubeSat mission. An extension to the SASA concept, known as Multifunctional Structures for Attitude Control (MSAC), enables arbitrarily large-angle slew maneuvers in addition to jitter cancellation. MSAC can potentially replace reaction wheels and control moment gyroscopes for attitude control systems, thereby eliminating a key source of jitter noise. Both SASA and MSAC are more reliable because of fewer failure modes and lower failure rates as compared to conventional ACS, while having an overall smaller mass, volume, and power budget. The paper discusses the advantages of using SASA and MSAC for a wide range of spacecraft and variant mission classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberIAC-19_C1_5_2_x50070
JournalProceedings of the International Astronautical Congress, IAC
StatePublished - 2019
Event70th International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2019 - Washington, United States
Duration: Oct 21 2019Oct 25 2019


  • Attitude control system
  • Fine position control
  • Jitter rejection
  • Pointing stability
  • Sub-milli-arcsecond pointing
  • Vibration dampening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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