On the dynamics of rigid multi-body systems in orbit

  • Daniele Pagnozzi

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


A critical factor for the success of space missions is the implementation of an appropriate spacecraft attitude control system. For multi-body space systems, the mechanical couplings have significant effects on the attitude dynamics. These effects, added to the high performance requirements and the number of strict constraints that, in general, space systems have to satisfy, make mission design very challenging. This calls for research to address these challenges. Dynamical systems analysis benefits system and control design by providing a quantity of information on the systems' natural behaviour. This thesis investigates the natural attitude dynamics of multi-rigid-body space systems and gains an insight into the nonlinear dynamics in order to develop efficient control techniques that exploit them. In addition this thesis aims to investigate the usefulness of dynamical systems tools in this area of application. To this end, the dynamics of the free single asymmetric rigid spacecraft, the two-body spacecraft in orbit, the threebody spacecraft in orbit and the generic N-body spacecraft are studied. Integrability of the single rigid body problem is used to derive a form of the well-known solution different from the classical and more suitable for aerospace applications. Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formalisms are used in the few-body problems where equilibria are identified and their nonlinear stability is addressed. Furthermore, the behaviour both in the neighborhood and far from the equilibria is examined, gaining an insight into the global nonlinear dynamics. Finally, the Newton-Euler formulation is employed to describe an N-body system and the problem of the dynamical coupling reduction, relevant for space manipulators, is addressed and a feedback controller is designed.
Date of Award23 Oct 2015
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorJames Biggs (Supervisor) & Massimiliano Vasile (Supervisor)

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