TR2015-083

Opportunities and Potential of Model Predictive Control for Low-Thrust Spacecraft Station-Keeping and Momentum-Management


    •  Weiss, A.; Di Cairano, S., "Opportunities and Potential of Model Predictive Control for Low-Thrust Spacecraft Station-Keeping and Momentum-Management", European Control Conference (ECC), DOI: 10.1109/ECC.2015.7330729, July 2015, pp. 1370-1375.
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      • @inproceedings{Weiss2015jul2,
      • author = {Weiss, A. and {Di Cairano}, S.},
      • title = {Opportunities and Potential of Model Predictive Control for Low-Thrust Spacecraft Station-Keeping and Momentum-Management},
      • booktitle = {European Control Conference (ECC)},
      • year = 2015,
      • pages = {1370--1375},
      • month = jul,
      • publisher = {IEEE},
      • doi = {10.1109/ECC.2015.7330729},
      • url = {http://www.merl.com/publications/TR2015-083}
      • }
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  • Research Area:

    Mechatronics


While electric propulsion generates fuel-efficient thrust for spacecraft control, it can only produce low levels of thrust, necessitating continuous actuation to impart an equivalent impulse to that of chemical thrusters. Thus, many of the standard open-loop propulsion scheduling techniques, developed for impulsive thrust, do not transfer to low-thrust architectures. Continuous actuation, together with tighter anticipated requirements for spacecraft station keeping, e.g., in geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), provides great opportunity for the application of feedback control. We demonstrate that model predictive control (MPC) can provide significant advantages as a control strategy for station keeping of low-thrust spacecraft, provided that its features, such as the capability to enforce output constraints, and the use of a prediction model for the plant and disturbances, are fully exploited. We develop a basic MPC design for station keeping in GEO, and compare its performance with an advanced MPC design that i ludes output constraints and disturbance prediction. We show that the basic MPC achieves precise regulation, albeit with unsustainable fuel consumption, whereas the advanced MPC satisfies the target mission requirements with fuel consumption in line with that of carefully designed open-loop strategies.