Downrange manoeuvre and oscillation suppression of a self-regulating centrifugally deployed flexible heat shield using a controlled reaction wheel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


A recent study has introduced a flexible deployable heat shield that passively deploys and stiffens due to centrifugal forces generated from a self-regulated autorotation. This paper demonstrates that the heat shield is similar to a PI controlled second order nonlinear system, which explains why the deployment is accompanied by a limit cycle structural oscillation that persists throughout a simulated re-entry. The heat shield design offers a unique capability to actively adjust the deployment using conventional attitude control devices. This operation is explored by simulating the re-entry of a CubeSat-sized vehicle equipped with an off-the-shelf reaction wheel controlled by a switching phase shift controller and gain-scheduled controllers. The effects of the control parameters are investigated, and successful oscillation suppression as well as an open-loop downrange manoeuvre of over 300 km is predicted for re-entry from low earth orbit.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Astronautica
Early online date4 Jan 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2019