Electric Satellite Station Keeping, Attitude Control, and Momentum Management by MPC

Ryan J. Caverly, Stefano Di Cairano, Avishai Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


We propose a model predictive control (MPC) policy for simultaneous station keeping, attitude control, and momentum management of a low-thrust nadir-pointing geostationary satellite equipped with reaction wheels and ON-OFF electric thrusters mounted on boom assemblies. Attitude control is performed using an inner loop SO(3)-based control law with the reaction wheels, while the outer loop MPC policy maintains the satellite within a narrow station-keeping window and performs momentum management using electric thrusters. For reducing propellant consumption, our MPC uses two different prediction horizons: a short horizon for the states associated with the orbit's inclination and a longer horizon for all other states. Furthermore, to handle the ON-OFF nature of the thruster while retaining low computational burden, we develop a strategy for quantizing the continuous thrust command, which also allows for trading off the number thrust pulses and fuel consumption. We validate the controller in a closed-loop simulation with the high-precision orbit propagation provided by the Systems Tool Kit (STK) and assess the robustness to model uncertainty and measurement noise.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Control Systems Technology
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:


  • Attitude control
  • electric propulsion
  • model predictive control (MPC)
  • momentum management
  • satellite
  • spacecraft control.


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