Aerodynamic attitude stabilization for a ram-facing CubeSat

Samir Rawashdeh, David Jones, Daniel Erb, Anthony Karam, James E. Lumpp

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

14 Scopus citations


This paper describes the design, modeling, and analysis of an attitude control system for a ram-facing pico-class satellite in Low Earth Orbit (LEO). A 3-U (30×10×10 cm3) CubeSat is designed to maintain one 10×10 cm2 face aligned with the velocity vector throughout the orbit. The solution presented implements deployable drag fins and resembles a shuttlecock design which is shown to be capable of providing passive stabilization for orbits below 500 km. A simplified Direct Simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method is used to model the rarefied atmosphere and its interaction with the spacecraft body for a range of fin geometries. An attitude propagator is developed to observe the satellite's dynamic response and steady-state behavior considering perturbing torques due to gravity gradient and solar pressure. Stability characteristics and pointing errors are shown for altitudes ranging from 300 to 450 km with fin lengths from 2 to 30 cm at angles from 0 to 90 degrees.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGuidance and Control 2009 - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 32nd Annual AAS Rocky Mountain Guidance and Control Conference
Number of pages13
StatePublished - 2009
Event32nd Annual AAS Rocky Mountain Guidance and Control Conference - Breckenridge, CO, United States
Duration: Jan 30 2009Feb 4 2009

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Conference32nd Annual AAS Rocky Mountain Guidance and Control Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityBreckenridge, CO

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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