Contactless attitude control of an uncooperative satellite by laser ablation

Daisuke Sakai, Yasuhiro Yoshimura, Toshiya Hanada, Yuki Itaya, Tadanori Fukushima

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


An active debris removal method using a laser is a promising technology for its advantage in contactless operations. This paper deals with the attitude control of an uncooperative target by a laser, which is an important phase before deorbiting. The difficulty of attitude control by the laser stems from the torque directional constraint because the laser generates thrust along the normal vector of the irradiated face irrespective of the irradiating direction. Thus, the control torque along the normal vector cannot be generated, which makes the attitude control with the laser torque challenging. To tackle this problem, this paper first designs a reference controller that assumes arbitrary control torques are available. Then, a method for determining the irradiating point is proposed so that the difference between the reference torque and the actual one is minimized. Although the proposed controller does not guarantee theoretical convergence to the desired attitude, the effectiveness of the proposed controller is numerically verified for a box-type object. Furthermore, the robustness to the uncertainties of thrust magnitude and direction is also examined by Monte Carlo simulations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)275-281
Number of pages7
JournalActa Astronautica
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering


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