Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Science in Electrical Engineering (MSEE)

Document Type

Master's Thesis




Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. T. Michael Seigler

Second Advisor

Dr. Bruce Walcott


Attitude control remains one of the top engineering challenges faced by small satellite mission planning and design. Conventional methods for attitude control include propulsion, reaction wheels, magnetic torque coils, and passive stabilization mechanisms, such as permanent magnets that align with planetary magnetic fields. Drawbacks of these conventional attitude control methods for small satellites include size, power consumption, dependence on external magnetic fields, and lack of full control authority. This research investigates an alternative, novel approach to attitude-control method for small satellites, utilizing the noncommutative property of rigid body rotation sequences. Piezoelectric bimorph actuators are used to induce sinusoidal small-amplitude satellite oscillations on two of the satellites axes. While zero net change occurs on these signaled axes, the third axis can develop an average angular rate. This noncommutative attitude control methodology has several advantages over conventional methods, including scalability, power consumption, and operation outside of Earth's magnetic field. This research looks into the feasibility of such a system, and lays the foundation for a simple control system architecture.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)