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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 3812397, 12 pages
Research Article

The Coupled Orbit-Attitude Dynamics and Control of Electric Sail in Displaced Solar Orbits

1Department of Aerospace Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China
2Shanghai Satellite Engineering Research Institute, Shanghai 200240, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Mingying Huo

Received 22 March 2017; Revised 24 May 2017; Accepted 2 July 2017; Published 31 July 2017

Academic Editor: Christian Circi

Copyright © 2017 Mingying Huo et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Displaced solar orbits for spacecraft propelled by electric sails are investigated. Since the propulsive thrust is induced by the sail attitude, the orbital and attitude dynamics of electric-sail-based spacecraft are coupled and required to be investigated together. However, the coupled dynamics and control of electric sails have not been discussed in most published literatures. In this paper, the equilibrium point of the coupled dynamical system in displaced orbit is obtained, and its stability is analyzed through a linearization. The results of stability analysis show that only some of the orbits are marginally stable. For unstable displaced orbits, linear quadratic regulator is employed to control the coupled attitude-orbit system. Numerical simulations show that the proposed strategy can control the coupled system and a small torque can stabilize both the attitude and orbit. In order to generate the control force and torque, the voltage distribution problem is studied in an optimal framework. The numerical results show that the control force and torque of electric sail can be realized by adjusting the voltage distribution of charged tethers.