Dynamics and control of spacecraft with a generalized model of variable speed control moment gyroscopes

Sasi P. Viswanathan, Amit Sanyal, Frederick Leve, N. Harris McClamroch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


The attitude dynamics model for a spacecraft with a variable speed control moment gyroscope (VSCMG) is derived using the principles of variational mechanics. The resulting dynamics model is obtained in the framework of geometric mechanics, relaxing some of the assumptions made in prior literature on control moment gyroscopes (CMGs). These assumptions include symmetry of the rotor and gimbal structure, and no offset between the centers of mass of the gimbal and the rotor. The dynamics equations show the complex nonlinear coupling between the internal degrees-of-freedom associated with the VSCMG and the spacecraft base body's rotational degrees-of-freedom. This dynamics model is then further generalized to include the effects of multiple VSCMGs placed in the spacecraft base body, and sufficient conditions for nonsingular VSCMG configurations are obtained. General ideas on control of the angular momentum of the spacecraft using changes in the momentum variables of a finite number of VSCMGs are provided. A control scheme using a finite number of VSCMGs for attitude stabilization maneuvers in the absence of external torques and when the total angular momentum of the spacecraft is zero is presented. The dynamics model of the spacecraft with a finite number of VSCMGs is then simplified under the assumptions that there is no offset between the centers of mass of the rotor and gimbal, and the rotor is axisymmetric. As an example, the case of three VSCMGs with axisymmetric rotors, placed in a tetrahedron configuration inside the spacecraft, is considered. The control scheme is then numerically implemented using a geometric variational integrator (GVI). Numerical simulation results with zero and nonzero rotor offset between centers of mass of gimbal and rotor are presented.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number071003
JournalJournal of Dynamic Systems, Measurement and Control, Transactions of the ASME
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Information Systems
  • Instrumentation
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications

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