Nonlinear attitude control of spacecraft with a large captured object

Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, Soon Jo Chung, Fred Y. Hadaegh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents an attitude control strategy and a new nonlinear tracking controller for a spacecraft carrying a large object, such as an asteroid or a boulder. If the captured object is larger or comparable in size to the spacecraft and has significant modeling uncertainties, conventional nonlinear control laws that use exact feedforward cancellation are not suitable because they exhibit a large resultant disturbance torque. The proposed nonlinear tracking control law guarantees global exponential convergence of tracking errors with finite-gainLp stability in the presence of modeling uncertainties and disturbances, and it reduces the resultant disturbance torque. Furthermore, this control law permits the use of any attitude representation, and its integral control formulation eliminates any constant disturbance. Under small uncertainties, the best strategy for stabilizing the combined system is to track a fuel-optimal reference trajectory using this nonlinear control law because it consumes the least amount of fuel. In the presence of large uncertainties, the most effective strategy is to track the derivative plus proportional-derivativebased reference trajectory because it reduces the resultant disturbance torque. The effectiveness of the proposed attitude control methods is demonstrated by using results of numerical simulation based on an Asteroid Redirect Mission concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)754-769
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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