Research in Engineering and Aviation

Design and Analysis of Nano Momentum Wheel for Picosatellite Attitude Control System


Author(s): S. Jayaram

Journal: International Journal of Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technologies, Volume 81, Issue 5, pp. 424-431, 2009. DOI: 10.1108/00022660910983707


Purpose – Recent advances in nano and picosatellite missions and future such missions require faster and accurate pointing accuracies using reaction wheels for attitude control purposes. The ability to put one or three reaction wheels on the spacecraft in the 1-20?kg range enables new classes of missions. The purpose of this paper is to present the detailed design, analysis, and construction of a miniature reaction wheel prototype. The designed pico-reaction wheel promises to fulfill the need for low cost, low mass, low power, high reliability, and high-accuracy attitude control systems for applications such as communications, remote sensing, and space science.

Design/methodology/approach – Details about the design, analysis and development of pico-reaction wheel are discussed. The development status of the system is outlined and the working prototype of the device is described and some preliminary test results are given. Requirements specifications, design and analysis and finite element analysis are covered.

Findings – A fully functional prototype has been developed and testing has been conducted that demonstrated the effectiveness of the device. The pico-reaction wheel offers a new attitude control system implementation strategy for pico and nanosatellite missions that can help to significantly reduce the spacecraft costs. The key to our success has been to design the reaction wheel from ground-up for simplicity.

Originality/value – The designed pico-reaction wheel satisfied all the constraints and requirements. Furthermore, its advantages include scalability and modularity by virtue of using commercial-off-the-shelf components. A pico-reaction wheel has been successfully designed and is now available to pico and nanosatellite builders at a cost that is consistent with low-cost research missions.