Station keeping and momentum management of low-thrust satellites using MPC

This work proposes a Model Predictive Control (MPC) policy for simultaneous station keeping and momentum management of a low-thrust nadir-pointing satellite in geostationary orbit around the Earth. The satellite is equipped with six electrically powered thrusters and three axisymmetric reaction wheels, which must be coordinated to control the satellite orbital position and, concurrently, unload the wheels' stored angular momentum. The MPC policy enforces constraints that maintain the satellite in a tight latitude and longitude window and in a tight nadir-pointing attitude configuration, while minimizing the delta-v provided by the thrusters. The MPC policy exploits a prediction model of the environmental disturbance forces in order to significantly reduce the delta-v required for station keeping, and enforces constraints determined by the thruster configuration to select control forces and torques that can be generated by the propulsion system. Numerical simulations of the control policy in closed-loop with the satellite nonlinear dynamics under high-precision orbit propagation provided by Systems Tool Kit (STK) that validate the performance of the proposed design in terms of thruster usage and constraint enforcement are presented.