Recovery of an Uncontrolled, Asymmetric Spacecraft with Limited Controls
2016, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA. All rights reserved. This paper investigates the problem of stabilization of a spinning mass using weak control inputs. It is inspired by a scene from a recent popular movie in which an already docked space ship attempts to utilize its controls to stabilize an asymmetric space station that is spinning uncontrolled. Based on visual data, limited information, and offline estimation of parameters, a model of a space station is created and used to design a Linear Quadratic Gaussian Controller to find the optimal control gains that stops the spin and stabilizes the space station. The primary weighted variable in the cost reduction function is the spin rate about the maximum principal axis of inertia. The unbalanced torques applied due to the variation in moment arms between the thrusters is also analyzed by monitoring the fluctuation in precession and nutation. Results presented in the paper show that the controller can successfully stabilize the space station but a lot more time is needed than shown in the scene. Based upon the simulation results, it is judged that the particular failure scenario is not feasible, due mainly to the amount of thrust required to stop spinning the spacecraft within the elapsed time of the scene.