Ultra-Fine Pointing for Nanosatellite Telescopes With Actuated Booms

Kevin Tracy, Zachary Manchester, Ewan Douglas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The smallsat revolution has impacted the architecture of most modern satellites with the notable exception of fine-pointing space telescopes. Conventional attitude control hardware scales poorly as the spacecraft gets smaller, resulting in significant mass and performance penalties for nanosatellites with strict pointing requirements. This paper presents a novel attitude actuation and planning strategy that utilizes actuated booms with tip masses and magnetorquers for three-axis pointing and momentum desaturation. The speed of the booms is an appropriate match for the slowly varying environmental disturbance torques encountered in low-Earth orbit. As a result, these booms do not create the high-frequency jitter that reaction wheels do, lessening the need for complex second-stage correction hardware in the payload. An optimization-based motion planner is able to reason about the orbital ephemeris to ensure the booms never exceed their actuation limits, and a Linear Quadratic Gaussian controller is able to maintain fine-pointing during times of payload operation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
PublisherIEEE Computer Society
ISBN (Electronic)9781665437608
StatePublished - 2022
Event2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022 - Big Sky, United States
Duration: Mar 5 2022Mar 12 2022

Publication series

NameIEEE Aerospace Conference Proceedings
ISSN (Print)1095-323X


Conference2022 IEEE Aerospace Conference, AERO 2022
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBig Sky

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science

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