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Center Independent Research & Development: GSFC IRAD

Reaction Wheel for Sounding Rocket Payload Attitude Control

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Sounding rocket payload attitude is currently controlled by a system of cold gas thrusters. The gas released by the thrusters has the potential to interfere with science instruments that make measurements of the local environment. There is interest in the sounding rocket science community in an attitude control system (ACS) that can provide fine attitude control without releasing gas. A three-axis reaction wheel assembly (RWA) control system has been modeled that could provide gasless attitude control for sounding rocket payloads. During development of the three-axis model, it was revealed that reaction wheels designed for orbital spacecraft are not well suited for sounding rocket applications. The goal of this project is to design a reaction wheel specifically for use in a sounding rocket ACS.

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