Nonlinear feedback control for remote orbital capture

Joseph W. Widhalm, Bruce A. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The problem of detumbling a freely spinning and precessing axisymmetric target satellite with feedback control by an axisymmetric retriever spacecraft or orbital maneuvering vehicle is considered. Equations of motion for the two-body system are derived using Euler's dynamical equations in conjunction with the methodology developed by Hooker and Margulies. A Liapunov technique is employed to derive a nonlinear feedback control law for the thruster torques applied by the orbital maneuvering vehicle and the motor torques applied at the joint to drive the two-body system to a final spin-stabilized state asymptotically. State and control histories are presented to illustrate that the detumbling process is quite benign and that the required control magnitudes are small. The loads at the joint are determined and found to be within acceptable bounds during detumbling.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)657-662
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1986

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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