Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Eric Mehiel


The CalPoly Spacecraft Attitude Dynamics Simulator mimics the rotational dynamics of a spacecraft in orbit and acts as a testbed for spacecraft attitude control system development and demonstration. Prior to this thesis, the simulator platform and several subsystems had been designed and manufactured, but the total simulator system was not yet capable of closed-loop attitude control. Previous attempts to make the system controllable were primarily mired by data transport performance. Rather than exporting data to an external command computer, the strategy implemented in this thesis relies on a compact computer onboard the simulator platform to handle both attitude control processing and data acquisition responsibilities. Software drivers were created to interface the computer’s data acquisition boards with Matlab, and a Simulink library was developed to handle hardware interface functions and simplify the composition of attitude control schemes. To improve the usability of the system, a variety of actuator control, hardware testing, and data visualization utilities were also created. A closedloop attitude control strategy was adapted to facilitate future sensor installations, and was tested in numerical simulation. The control model was then updated to interface with the simulator hardware, and for the first time in the project history, attitude control was performed onboard the CalPoly spacecraft attitude dynamics simulator. The demonstration served to validate the numerical model and to verify the functionality of the entire simulator system.