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2010/1 Module Catalogue
Module Provider: Electronic Engineering Short Name: EE3.DYC
Level: HE3 Module Co-ordinator: PALMER PL Dr (Elec Eng)
Number of credits: 15 Number of ECTS credits: 7.5
Module Availability

Autumn Semester

Assessment Pattern

Unit(s) of Assessment
Weighting Towards Module Mark( %)
2-hour closed book examination paper;
PC-Based Assignment on a Spacecraft Simulator – 1000 word report and an experiments exam
Part-time Students: As Above

Module Overview
Through a series of lectures, exercises and coursework, the module aims to give an introduction to the basic elements of spacecraft dynamics and control. Students will get a first understanding on the fundamentals of attitude and orbit control and determination.


Module Aims

To introduce the student to the classical dynamics of spacecraft and applications of control.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the module, the student should:
  • have an appreciation of the orbital motion of a satellite including perturbation effects, and which orbits are most useful for space applications. 
  • develop an understanding of rotational dynamics and how spacecraft orient themselves and control their pointing
Module Content
Satellite Orbits:
Kepler’s laws and Newton ’s derivation of Keplerian orbits. Energy and angular momentum related to orbital geometry. Velocity and mission planning. Time along orbit – Kepler’s problem, mean and eccentric anomalies. Groundtracks, Molniya, geosynchronous and resonant orbits, LEO and sun synchronous orbits.
Coordinate Systems and Time:
Equinoxes, solstices, first point of Aries, precession of the nodes.Earth’s mean equator, the obliquity of the ecliptic. Local topographic frames, hour angles, latuitude and longitude. Perifocal coordinates and local satellite coordinates.Solar time, sidereal time, universal time and atomic time. Julian date and MJD. Polar motion. Earth’s nutation and precession.
Dynamics of a Rigid Body:
Rotating frames of reference. Coriolis theorem. Moments of Inertia, principal axes, Euler’s equations. Kinematics, Euler angles, roll, pitch and yaw. Kinematic equations, integrals of the motion – rotational energy, total angular momentum. Motion of the angular momentum vector, torques.
Spacecraft Attitude:
Rotation states of triaxial satellites, precession and nutation with methods of control. Attitude sensors and actuators. Attitude solution from vector observations
Control Actuators:
Gyroscopic torques and momentum bias. Internal momentum storage devices. Control moment gyroscopes, gravity gradient booms, momentum wheels.
Attitude Control:

Detumbling of a spacecraft on separation. Magnetic control in LEO, Y-Thomson spin.

Methods of Teaching/Learning

Teaching is by lectures and tutorials. Learning takes place through lectures, tutorials, exercises and coursework. 3 hours lectures/tutorials/examples classes per week for 10 weeks. 1 hour lab per week for 10 weeks.

Selected Texts/Journals
W. Weisel, “Spaceflight Dynamics”, McGraw-Hill, 1997
M.J. Sidi, “Spacecraft Dynamics and Control”, Cambridge Aerospace Series, 1997
Fortesque, P. & Stark, J. “Spacecraft Systems Engineering” 3rd Ed, Wiley, 2003

Larson, W. & Wertz, J. “Space Mission Analysis & Design” 2nd Ed, Kluwer Publishers

Last Updated

12 August 2010