Quaternion-based Finite-time Sliding Mode Controller Design for Attitude Tracking of a Rigid Spacecraft during High-thrust Orbital Maneuver in the Presence of Disturbance Torques


Department of Aerospace Engineering, Shahid Beheshti University, GC, Tehran, Iran


In this paper, a quaternion-based finite-time sliding mode attitude controller is designed for a spacecraft performing high-thrust orbital maneuvers, with cold gas thrusters as its actuators. The proposed controller results are compared with those of a quaternion feedback controller developed for the linearized spacecraft dynamics, in terms of settling time, steady-state error, number of thruster firings and their fuel usage. It is then proved that the sliding mode control has enough robustness against disturbances as well as a high accuracy in attitude tracking and also a low number of thruster firings. A 6 degree of freedom (DOF) total simulation, including spacecraft dynamics, guidance, navigation and control systems is also designed and the sliding mode controller performance in a sample transfer from an ecliptic orbit to a circular one is investigated. In order to solve the chattering problem caused mainly because of the discontinuity of sliding mode control algorithm and multiple switching on sliding surfaces, the sign function in the control input is replaced with a hyperbolic tangent function. Being aware of the advantages of sliding mode control method, using this algorithm in orbital transfers seems to be innovative and efficient.


1.     Xin, M. and Pan, H., "Nonlinear optimal control of spacecraft approaching a tumbling target", Aerospace Science and Technology,  Vol. 15, No. 2, (2011), 79-89.
2.     Lu, K. and Xia, Y., "Adaptive attitude tracking control for rigid spacecraft with finite-time convergence", Automatica,  Vol. 49, No. 12, (2013), 3591-3599.
3.     Gurfil, P., "Nonlinear feedback control of low-thrust orbital transfer in a central gravitational field", Acta Astronautica,  Vol. 60, No. 8-9, (2007), 631-648.
4.     Sidi, M.J., "Spacecraft dynamics and control: A practical engineering approach, Cambridge University Press,  (2000).
5.     Vadali, S.R., "Variable-structure control of spacecraft large-angle maneuvers", Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics,  Vol. 9, No. 2, (1986), 235-239.
6.     Ibrahim, A.E.-s., Tobal, A.M. and Sultan, M.A., "Satellite attitude maneuver using sliding mode control under body angular velocity constraints", International Journal of Computer Applications,  Vol. 50, No. 13, (2012).
7.     Liu, J. and Wang, X., "Advanced sliding mode control for mechanical systems: Design, analysis and matlab simulation, Springer Berlin Heidelberg,  (2012).
8.     M. Malekzadeh and B. Shahbazi, "Robust Attitude Control  of a Spacecraft Attitude Simulator with External Disturbances", International Journal of Engineering,Transactions A: Basics,Vol. 30,No. 4, (2017), 567-574.
9.     A. H. Mazinan, "High-Performance Robust Three-Axis Finite-Time Attitude Control Approach Incorporating Quaternion Based Estimation Scheme to Overactuated Spacecraft," International Journal of Engineering,Transactions A: Basics, Vol. 29, No. 1, (January 2016) 53-59.
10.   A.Toloei, M. Abbaszadehtoori, M. Shayan, "Attitude Estimation of Nano-satellite according to Navigation Sensors Using of Combination Method," International Journal of Engineering,Transactions A: Basics, Vol. 28, No. 7, (July 2015) 964-969.