Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics (PhD)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

Ossama Abdelkhalik

Advisor 2

Bo Chen

Committee Member 1

Bong Wie

Committee Member 2

Mo Rastgaar


This study focused on providing applicable control solutions for spacecraft magnetic attitude control system. Basically, two main lines are pursued; first, developing detumbling control laws and second, an improvement in the three-axis attitude control schemes by extending magnetic rods activation time.

Spacecraft, after separation from the launching mechanism, experiences a tumbling phase due to an undesired angular momentum. In this study, we present a new efficient variant of the B-dot detumbling law by introducing a substitute of the spacecraft angular velocity, based on the ambient magnetic field data. This B-dot law preserves the orthogonality, among the applied torque, dipole moment and magnetic field vectors. Most of the existing variants of the B-dot law in the literature don't preserve this orthogonality. Furthermore, the problem of minimum-time spacecraft magnetic detumbling is revisited within the context of optimal control theory. Two formulations are presented; the first one assumes the availability of the angular velocity measurements for feedback. The second formulation assumes the availability of only the ambient magnetic field measurements in the feedback; the latter is considered another optimal-based B-dot law. A reduction in detumbling time is fulfilled by the proposed laws along with less power consumption for the proposed B-dot laws.

In magnetic attitude maneuvers, magnetic rods and magnetometers usually operate alternatively, to avoid the magnetic rods' noise effect on magnetometers measurements. Because of that, there will be no control authority over the spacecraft during the magnetometer measurement period. Hence longer maneuver times are usually experienced. In this study, a control scheme that enables the extension of the magnetic rods’ activation time is developed, regardless of the attitude control law. The key concept is replacing the real magnetic field measurement by a pseudo measurement, which is computed based on other sensors measurements. By applying a known command to the spacecraft and measuring the spacecraft response, it is possible to compute the ambient magnetic field around the spacecraft. The system mathematical singularity is solved using the Tikhonov regularization approach. Another developed approach estimates the magnetic field, using a relatively simple and fast dynamic model inside a Multiplicative Extended Kalman Filter. A less maneuver time with less power consumption are fulfilled. These control approaches are further validated using real telemetry data from CASSIOPE mission.

This dissertation develops a stability analysis for the spacecraft magnetic attitude control, taking into consideration the alternate operation between the magnetic rods and the magnetometers. It is shown that the system stability degrades because of this alternate operation, supporting the proposed approach of extending the operation time of the magnetic rods.