ESA GNC Conference Papers Repository
Advances in Experimental Verification of Remote Spacecraft Attitude Control by Coulomb Charging
In order to ameliorate the ever increasing space situational awareness risks at Geosynchronous (GEO) orbits, spacecraft rendezvous is desirable for servicing or repositioning operations. When large GEO spacecraft loose station keeping control, they can acquire sizable rotational momenta that imperil proximity operations and docking. Remote electrostatic charge control has been identified as a technology that may be used to safely despin non-spherical objects over a period of time. The Coulomb torques that are produced can be modeled by the recently developed Multi-Sphere Method or approximated analytically. Nonlinear stability arguments are made for control algorithms that achieve a desired rotation rate or specific attitude control in one dimension. An enhanced experimental testbed has been constructed to support this technology development. High voltage power supplies control the electrostatic potential on a conducting cylinder that rotates freely about its minor axis and on a stationary control sphere located in close proximity. Using only the Coulomb interaction, the system is able to swiftly bring the cylinder to rest from a large rotation rate, and position it in a desired angular orientation.