TU Delft
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2016/2017 Aerospace Engineering Master Aerospace Engineering
Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics & Control
Responsible Instructor
Name E-mail
Dr. Q.P. Chu    Q.P.Chu@tudelft.nl
Contact Hours / Week x/x/x/x
Education Period
Start Education
Exam Period
Course Language
Required for
Expected prior knowledge
Week arrangement
Week 1. Introduction to spacecraft dynamics and control, Rotational kinematics with quaternions
Week 2. Rigid body dynamics
Week 3. Spacecraft attitude determination techniques and attitude estimation
Week 4. Attitude control actuators
Week 5. Spacecraft passive attitude control
Week 6. Spacecraft active at attitude control with momentum based actuators
Week 7. Advanced control techniques for spacecraft attitude control
Course Contents
Spacecraft attitude control is one of the most important subsystems for most space vehicles. It controls the orientation and rotational rate of the spacecraft to a required accuracy. The attitude control system uses attitude sensors and control actuators to determine and correct the attitude errors of the spacecraft. Unlike the flight dynamics in the third educatiioon year, the rotational kinematics of space vehicles in this course is thoroughly taught using quaternion algebra, in order to give a more general technique in modelling spacecraft rotational motion without having mathematical sigularitis. State estimation techniques such as Kalman filter and extended Kalman filter are introduced for estimating spacecraft attitude from attitude sensors. Several techniques in sensor integration and data fusion are also taught for enhancing the performance of the attitude determination system. Control actuators include reaction wheels, momentum biased wheels, thrusters, magnetic coils and Control Moment Gyros (CMGs). The single gimbal CMGs with their applications to spacecraft attitude control is specifically addressed. The course discusses not only the passive attitude control concepts but more dedicates to active attitude control system designs. Particularly the quaternion feedback control technique is enhanced. Conventional design of spacecraft attitude control systems is based on the linear control theory. In this lecture advanced control techniques such as Nonlinear Dynamic Inversion (NDI) is also introduced for highly manoeuvrable spacecraft.
Study Goals
Students will be able to acquire classical and advanced techniques for spacecraft attitude control.
Education Method
Literature and Study Materials
Q.P. Chu, Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics and Control, Lecture sides, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Delft University
of Technology.

Recommended literature
M.J. Sidi, Spacecraft dynamics and control, a
practical engineering approach, Cambridge Univ. Press,
Cambridge, 1997 ISBN 0521550726.
B. Wie, Space vehicle dynamics and control, AIAA
Education Series, AIAA Inc., 1998 .
Take-home assignments
Examination: (3 ECTS):
Take-home exercises of spacecraft attitude control systems
with specified requirements and MATLAB simulations will be
asked to complete after the course.