Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Kira Abercromby


Two-axis gimbals are frequently used to point cameras and telescopes at various points of interest for surveillance, science, and art. The rotation of a two-axis gimbal system is governed by nonlinear angular momentum equations of motion. This paper presents a method for slewing a telescope in space with a gimbaled sensor attached to a nominally non-rotating spacecraft using two seventh order polynomial input functions to characterize torques. To accomplish this task, picking the optimal coefficients of the seventh order polynomial was necessary. It was also desired to use constraint equations to limit the excursion, angular velocity, angular acceleration, and jerk of the gimbal. A Matlab code was developed for this purpose. Matlab’s fmincon was used to do the optimization, and a comparison to a previously validated one-degree-of-freedom (DOF) model was presented for validation of the nonlinear, two-degree-of-freedom model. Results for a fully constrained 2 DOF slew maneuver were also shown. This thesis demonstrates that seventh order polynomial torques can be used to accurately slew a telescope in space using nonlinear equations of motion.