Publication Date

Fall 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Periklis Papadopoulos


ADCS, Aerospace, Attitude Control, CubeSat, Reaction Wheel, Spacecraft

Subject Areas

Aerospace engineering


This paper describes the design process of developing a spin-axis control system for a 3U CubeSat, a relatively small satellite. Design requires the CubeSat to de-spin after deployment and direct its antenna to track Earth nadir position. The one degree of freedom controller is developed for the TechEdSat, which is a CubeSat with a payload that allows for the assumption that rotation pitch and yaw rates are sufficiently close to zero. Satellite torqueing disturbances are modeled with reaction wheel noise for a more complete system analysis. Sensor noise is unmodeled. Frequency domain and time domain analyses are presented; the entire system bandwidth operates at 0.08 hertz with 43.2 decibels of gain and 67.7o of phase margin. During nominal operations, pointing accuracy with perfect state knowledge assumption maintains position with steady state error of 13.7 arc seconds and oscillates by 16.7 arc seconds at a rate of 0.7 mHertz. Artificial wheel noise is injected into the model causing the pointing accuracy to drop to ± 15 arc seconds. Environmental disturbances are modeled extensively; the magnetic field torque is the worst disturbance, at 4.2e-7 Newton-meters. A 0.2 Amp·m2 magnetorquer dumps the excess momentum every 7.75 hours and require 1.5 hours to complete. In the deployment simulation, a 1 rotation per minute spin is arrested with no angular offset in 60 seconds. Future plans include utilizing the model to build and fly a prototype reaction wheel on a future TechEdSat mission to verify modeled expectations.