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An Attitude Controller for Small Scale Rockets

Authors: Florian Kehl, Ankur M. Mehta, Kristofer S. J. Pister,

Publish Date: 2015
Volume: , Issue:, Pages: 201-214
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As technology has advanced, electronic components and systems have become smaller and more powerful. A similar trend holds for space systems, and satellites are no exception. As payloads become smaller, so too can the launch vehicles designed to carry them into orbital trajectories. An energy analysis shows that a rocket system with as low as tens of kg of fuel can be sufficient to deliver a 10g payload into orbit given a sufficiently low mass autonomous rocket flight control system. To develop this, the GINA board, a 2g sensor-laden wireless-enabled microprocessor system, was mounted on a custom actuated rocket system and programmed for inertial flight control. Ground and flight tests demonstrated accurate dead reckoning state estimation along with successful open loop actuator control. Further experiments showed the capabilities of the control system at closed loop feedback control. The results presented in this paper demonstrate the feasibility of a sufficiently low mass flight controller, paving the way for a small scale rocket system to deliver a 10g attosatellite into low Earth orbit (LEO).



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