AE3815 Spacecraft Rotational Mechanics

Fundamentals of vector and tensor algebra. Rigid shape orientation and its parametrization, Euler's theorem, Direction Cosine Matrix and Rotation Matrix, Orientation Quaternion, Modified Rodriguez Parameters. Change of coordinates for vector and tensors. Rigid shape orientation differential kinematics, angular velocity, Darboux equation. Rigid body spacecraft rotational dynamics: angular momentum, inertia tensor and its transformations, Euler's rotational motion equations, solutions of the Euler's equation in significant cases, spin stabilization, energy-sink analysis. Modeling of environmental torque acting on an orbiting spacecraft: gravity gradient, aerodynamic torque, solar pressure torque. During the two hours per week of laboratory as well as the homework's the students build up sequentially a full software simulator of spacecraft rotational mechanics to be used in subsequent classes.



Lecture Hours


Lab Hours


Quarter Offered

  • Spring