Tilted Wheel Satellite Attitude Control with Air-Bearing Table Experimental Results

L.O. Inumoh, J.L. Forshaw, N.M. Horri

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Gyroscopic actuators for satellite control have attracted significant research interest over the years, but their viability for the control of small satellites has only recently started to become clear. Research on variable speed gyroscopic actuators has long been focused on single gimbal actuators; double gimbal actuators typically operate at constant wheel spin rate and allow tilt angle ranges far larger than the ranges needed to operate most satellite missions. This research examines a Tilted Wheel, a newly proposed type of inertial actuator that can generate torques in all three principal axes of a rigid satellite using a spinning wheel and a double tilt mechanism. The tilt mechanism tilts the angular momentum vector about two axes providing two degree of freedom control, while variation of the wheel speed provides the third. The equations of motion of the system lead to a singularity-free system during nominal operation avoiding the need for complex steering logic. This paper describes the hardware design of the Tilted Wheel and the experimental setup behind both standalone and spherical air-bearing tables used to test it. Experimental results from the air bearing table are provided with the results depicting the high performance capabilities of the proposed actuator in torque generation.

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Acta Astronautica. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Acta Astronautica, 117 (2015)] DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2015.09.007

© 2015, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-429
Number of pages16
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue numberArticle 5550
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2015

Bibliographical note

This paper is not available on the repository. There is a 24 month embargo until September 2017.


  • Attitude control
  • CMG
  • Actuator design
  • Testbed design
  • Air bearing table


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