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An active force controlled of small CMG-based satellite

Mohd Badrul Salleh (School of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)
Nurulasikin Mohd Suhadis (School of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia)
Renuganth Varatharajoo (Department of Aerospace Engineering, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Serdang, Malaysia)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 15 June 2021

Issue publication date: 6 September 2021




This paper aims to investigate the attitude control pointing improvement for a small satellite with control moment gyroscopes (CMGs) using the active force control (AFC) method.


The AFC method is developed with its governing equations and integrated into the conventional proportional-derivative (PD) controller of a closed-loop satellite attitude control system. Two numerical simulations of an identical attitude control mission namely the PD controller and the PD+AFC controller were carried out using the MATLAB®-SimulinkTM software and their attitude control performances were demonstrated accordingly.


Having the PD+AFC controller, the attitude maneuver can be completed within the desired slew rate, which is about 2.14 degree/s and the attitude pointing accuracies for the roll, pitch and yaw angles have improved significantly by more than 85% in comparison with the PD controller alone. Moreover, the implementation of the AFC into the conventional PD controller does not cause significant difference on the physical structure of the four single gimbal CMGs (4-SGCMGs).

Practical implications

To achieve a precise attitude pointing mission, the AFC method can be applied directly to the existing conventional PD attitude control system of a CMG-based satellite. In this case, the AFC is indeed the backbone for the satellite attitude performance improvement.


The present study demonstrates that the attitude pointing of a small satellite with CMGs is improved through the implementation of the AFC scheme into the PD controller.



The work presented in this paper has been supported by Universiti Sains Malaysia Grant No. 1001/PAERO/8014108.


Salleh, M.B., Mohd Suhadis, N. and Varatharajoo, R. (2021), "An active force controlled of small CMG-based satellite", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 93 No. 7, pp. 1183-1192.



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