Feasibility assessment of passive stabilisation for a nanosatellite with aeroshell deployed by orbit-attitude-aerodynamics simulation platform

Maximilien Berthet, Kazuhiko Yamada, Yasunori Nagata, Kojiro Suzuki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Attitude control for small satellites is crucial to enable high value missions. Active attitude control is challenging for nanosatellites, due to their small mass and power budgets. On the other hand, the air in low Earth orbit is a promising resource for passive aero-stabilisation of a satellite's orientation. Potential has increased with the development of miniaturised deployable aeroshells for atmospheric entry. The EGG nanosatellite, released into space from the ISS in 2017, is one example of an aeroshell-equipped satellite with no means of active attitude control. Flight data from the EGG mission is a convenient resource to evaluate the concept of passive aero-stabilisation. In this work, a comprehensive coupled atmosphere-orbit-attitude simulation platform for small satellites was developed. The objectives are: (i) to validate the simulation against EGG mission data, and (ii) to evaluate the impact of attitude disturbances on robustness of passive aero-stabilisation. The results provide qualitative validation of the simulation platform, and show that passive attitude control with aeroshell deployed is highly sensitive to initial spin and spacecraft geometric asymmetry. These findings suggest the need for hybrid active control to turn aeroshell-equipped capsules into a viable means of trans-atmospheric transport.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)266-278
Number of pages13
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume173
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020

Keywords

  • Aeroshell
  • Attitude dynamics
  • Coupled simulation
  • Orbital decay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering

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