Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Eric Mehiel


The goal of this thesis is to use the Cal Poly Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics Simulator to provide proof of concept of two adaptive control theories developed by former Cal Poly students: Nonlinear Direct Model Reference Adaptive Control and Adaptive Output Feedback Control. The Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics Simulator is a student-built air bearing spacecraft simulator controlled by four reaction wheels in a pyramidal arrangement. Tests were performed to determine the effectiveness of the two adaptive control theories under nominal operating conditions, a “plug-and-play” spacecraft scenario, and under simulated actuator damage. Proof of concept of the adaptive control theories applied to attitude control of a spacecraft is provided. The adaptive control theories are shown to attain similar or improved performance over a Full State Feedback controller. However, the measurement capabilities of the simulator need to be improved before strong comparisons between the adaptive controllers and Full State Feedback can be achieved.