Primer on Spacecraft Dynamics

  • Yanzhu Liu
  • Liqun Chen


This chapter provides a fundamental theory of spacecraft dynamics. After a brief survey of gravitational field, the two-body problem is summarized as a simplified model of orbit motion of a spacecraft around the Earth. The main environmental torques acting on spacecraft, the gravitational torque and magnetic torque are introduced. The dynamical equations of attitude motion of a spacecraft are established, where the Euler’s equations and Poisson’s equations are applied for a rigid spacecraft in gravitational field. The stability problems of the relative equilibrium of a rigid spacecraft in circular orbit under gravitational torque are analyzed by using the first approximation method and the Lyapunov’s direct method. The attitude motions of a gyrostat are analyzed as a model of spacecraft with axisymmetric rotors. The permanent rotations and its stability of a spinning spacecraft are discussed under torque-free assumption.


orbit dynamics two-body problem gravitational torque magnetic torque Euler’s equations Poisson’s equations torque-free rigid bodies gyrostats 


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Copyright information

© Tsinghua University Press, Beijing and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yanzhu Liu
    • 1
  • Liqun Chen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Engineering MechanicsShanghai Jiao Tong UniversityShanghaiChina
  2. 2.Department of MechanicsShanghai UniversityShanghaiChina

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