1, May 2009
* Ph.D Candidate
** Professor
Email : ydkim@snu.ac.kr Tel : +8228807398 FAX : +8228872662
Design of Optimal Controllers for Spacecraft Formation
Flying Based on the Decentralized Approach
Jonghee Bae* and Youdan Kim**
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea 151742
Abstract
Formation controller for multiple spacecrafts is designed based on a
decentralized approach. The objective of the proposed controller is to make each
spacecraft fly to the desired waypoints, while keeping the formation shape of multiple
spacecrafts. To design the decentralized formation controller, the output feedback
linearization technique using error functions for goal convergence and formation
keeping is utilized for spacecraft dynamics. The primary contribution of this paper is
to proposed optimal controller for formation flying based on the decentralized
approach. To design the optimal controller, eigenvalue assignment technique is used.
To verify the effectiveness of the proposed controller, numerical simulations are
performed for threedimensional waypointpassing missions of multiple spacecrafts.
Key Word : Spacecraft, Formation flying, Decentralized method, Optimal controller,
Eigenvalue assignment technique
Introduction
Formation control for multiple spacecrafts has been an extensive research area over the
decades. The multiple spacecrafts formation flying has several merits including the improved
performance, reduced cost, reconfigurability, system robustness, and instrument resolution
compared to a large single spacecraft [12].
Generally, there are two approaches to multiple spacecrafts formation method: centralized
and decentralized method [3]. In the centralized method, there is a leader which works as a
manager to offer a reference trajectory toward the goal, and the followers track the position and
orientation with respect to the leader. The centralized method is easy to implement; however, the
whole system may be collapsed when the leader has some problems. Moreover, this method
requires full state information for communication with each other, and therefore there may be a
delay in reaction to an unexpected situation [3]. In the decentralized method, on the other hand,
each spacecraft has the desired objectives such as collision avoidance, goal seeking, and formation
keeping. This approach can be implemented with less communication, and the formation objectives
can be easily changed depending on the circumstances. However, it is difficult to analyze the
stability of the formation control scheme [46].
The objective of this study is to propose an optimal controller for spacecraft formation
flying based on the decentralized approach. It is assumed that each spacecraft has own objective
to move to the given waypoints, and to keep the formation pattern. To design the formation
controller, output feedback linearization is used and it is assumed that each spacecraft can
communicate each other to share the information of position and attitude. The optimization of gain
matrices is also performed to obtain better efficiency of spacecraft formation flying.
Design of Optimal Controllers for Spacecraft Formation Flying Based on the Decentralized Approach 59
This paper is organized as follows. In second section, the output feedback linearization of
spacecraft dynamics is derived. In third section, the decentralized formation controller and control
gain optimization method are proposed. Numerical simulation and analysis to verify the
performance of the proposed controller are described in fourth section. Finally, conclusions are
presented in final section.
Spacecraft Dynamics
Consider the equations of motion of a spacecraft.
1
2
0 0
0
0 0
0
r u
q u
v
g g
x u
q
g g
= +
&
&
(1)
with
2
3
2
3 3
3
2
( )
2
( )
( )
r
x
y y x
xi y R j zk
y R R
g x x y
xi y R j zk Rj
z
xi y R j zk
+ +
+ + +
+
= +
+ + +
+ + +
& && &
&
& && &
&
(2)
1
2
1
2
q
q
T T
q
g h q hq w q wq
g
g
h q w q
+ +
= =
&
&
&
(3)
[ ]
1
h J w Jw
1 3 3
21 1 3 3
2
22
1
1
2
u
u
u
T
u
g I
m
g q qI
g J
g q
=
+
= =
(4)
where the state vector [
[
1
denotes the position [ [
1
I
8 1
, velocity I
8 1
,
quaternion [
[
1
I
4 1
, and quaternion rate of the spacecraft
I
4 1
. The control input
vector [ t[
1
denotes the control force and torque, respectively. J, , , and j are the moment
of inertia, mass, angular velocity, and gravitational coefficient, respectively.
The output of the system is given by
r
Y
q
=
(5)
Differentiating Eq. (5) with respect to time gives
r v
Y
q q
= =
&
&
& &
Differentiating twice with respect to time yields
60 Jonghee Bae and Youdan Kim
1
1 21
0
0
r u
q u
g g f
Y P Gu
g g
= + +
&&
(6)
Note that the system is output feedback linearizable if the following condition is satisfied.
1
1 21 3 3
1
det det( ) det( ) ( ) 0
2
u u
G g g q qI J
m
= = +
(7)
The above condition can be simplified as
0 [7].
Let us defined the map 1: I
14
I
14
to be a diffeomorphism as
( )
r
q
x
v
q
=
&
(8)
1
3 1
2
4
( ) x
= =
(9)
Using Eq. (8) and Eq. (9), Eq. (1) can be transformed to
3 1
4 2
1
3
2 4
0
0
r u
q u
g g
u
g g
=
= +
&
&
&
&
(10)
The control input using output feedback linearization can be obtained with a new pseudo
control input i as
( )
1
u G v P
=
(11)
Finally, the linearized system can be expressed as
Y =
&&
(12)
Decentralized Formation Flying and Optimal Controller.
Error Function
In this study, the decentralized formation controller is adapted, which has been studied for
formation maneuvers of ground robots [6].
Let us consider two competing objectives to design decentralized formation controller. The
first objective is to move the spacecrafts to the final goals. The second objective is to maintain
the formation shape during the maneuver. Two error functions are considered to combine these
objectives. The error function L for the first objective is the total error between the current
position of the spacecraft and the desired goal.
1
N
T
g i g i
i
E Y K Y
=
=
% %
(13)
Efficient Aerodynamic Computation of a Wing Model Considering Body Effect for the Aeroelastic Application 61
where N is the total number of spacecraft, Y is the position and quaternion of the ith spacecraft,
% % % %
(14)
where K is symmetric positive semidefinite matrix, and the notation <N is used to indicate
a ring summation.
The total error function for the formation flying problem is defined as the sum of Eq. (13)
and Eq. (14) as
1 1
( )
( ) ( )
g f
T T
i g i i i f i i
i N
E t E E
Y K Y Y Y K Y Y
+ +
=< >
= +
= +
% % % % % %
(15)
The objective of decentralized formation control is to make the total error function L( ) converge
to zero asymptotically. To simplify the equation, using the property of Toeplitz matrix C and
Kronecker product [8], Eq. (15) can be written as
1
( )
2
T
N g f
E Y I K C K Y = +
% %
(16)
where
1
T
T T
N
Y Y Y
=
% % %
L
(17)
2 1 0 0 1
1 2 1 0 0 2
0 1 2 1 0 2 0
0
0 0 1 2 1 2
1 0 0 1 2
N N
J J J
J J
C C C J
J J J
= > =
L
L L
L L
M M M M
L L
L
(18)
Decentralized Control Design
In this section, the coupled dynamics of formation controller is derived. Consider the
following Lyapunov function candidate.
1
1
2
1 1
( )
2 2
N
T
i i
i
T T
N g f
V E y y
Y I K C K Y Y Y
=
= +
= + +
& &
% %
& &
% % % %
(19)
Differentiating Eq. (19) with respect to time gives
{ }
( )
( )
T T
N g f
T d
N g f
V Y I K C K Y Y Y
Y I K C K Y Y
= + +
= + +
& & &&
& % % % %
& &&
% % %
(20)
where
Y[
Y
1
1
Y
N
1
[
1
, and i [i
1
1
i
N
1
[
1
.
62 Jonghee Bae and Youdan Kim
Let us propose a controller as
( ) ( )
d N g f N g f
Y I K C K Y I D C D Y = + +
&
&& % %
(21)
where D D
1
0, and D D
1
0. Substitution of Eq. (21) into Eq. (20) yields
( )
T
N g f
V Y I D C D Y = +
& &
& % %
(22)
Note that the Kronecker product of two positive definite matrices is positive definite. Therefore,
Eq. (22) is negative semidefinite. Moreover, the total error function L( ) converges to zero
asymptotically by LaSalle's invariance principle, because the set (
Y,
Y),
V0 contains no
trajectory excluding
Y
Y0 [7]. Therefore, the formation flying control law of the ith spacecraft
is given by
1 1 1 1
( ) ( ) ( ) ( )
d
i i g i g i
f i i f i i f i i f i i
Y K Y D Y
K Y Y K Y Y D Y Y D Y Y
+ +
=
&
&& % %
& & & &
% % % % % % % %
(23)
Optimal Controller
Total error function is defined as a function of the weight matrices K and K that are
related to two competing objectives: goal convergence and formation keeping. Thus, weighting
matrices should be selected considering the performance of spacecraft formation flying such as
oscillations of each spacecraft's trajectory, the goal convergence time, and the consumption of the
control input. Now, let us consider an optimization problem.
Substituting Eq. (23) to Eq. (12) gives the following equation.
{ }
{ }
1 1 1 1
( 2 ) ( 2 ) 0
i f i g f i f i f i g f i f i
Y D Y D D Y D Y K Y K K Y K Y
+ +
+ + + + + + =
&& & & &
% % % % % % %
(24)
The above equation can be expressed as the general mechanical second order equation
0 Y CY KY + + =
&& &
% % %
(25)
where
1
1
i
i
i
Y
Y Y
Y
+
=
&&
%
&& &&
% %
&&
%
(26)
2 2
2 2
2 2
g f f f g f f f
f g f f f g f f
f f g f f f g f
D D D D K K K K
C D D D D K K K K K
D D D D K K K K
+ +
= + = +
+ +
(27)
Note that Eq. (25) that the gain matrices K and K behave like the stiffness matrix, while D and
D act like the damping matrix of the mechanical second order system.
In this study, it is assumed that K , K , D , and D are diagonal matrices.
3 3
3 3
g g f f
g g f f
K k I K k I
D d I D d I
= =
= =
(28)
Efficient Aerodynamic Computation of a Wing Model Considering Body Effect for the Aeroelastic Application 63
where 0, 0, 0, and 0 are scalar variables. Then, the xcoordinate position error
equation can be expressed as
1 1
1
1
1 1
2 2 0
2 2 0
2 2 0
i i
g f f f g f f f i
i f g f f i f g f f i
f f g f f f g f i
i i
x x
d d d d k k k k x
x d d d d x k k k k x
d d d d k k k k x
x x
+
+ +
+ +
+ + + + =
+ +
&& &
% %
%
&& &
% % %
&& & %
% % (29)
Similarly, the y and zcoordinate position error equations can be obtained.
Let us consider the augmented state as follows
x
X
x
=
%
&
%
(30)
With the augmented states, Eq. (29) becomes
a
X AX Bu
u K X
= +
=
&
(31)
where
[ ]
3 3 3 3 3
3 3 3 3 3
0 0
0 0
a d d
I
A B K K C
I
= = =
(32)
To design the feedback gain matrix K , eigenvalue assignment approach is adopted. In this
approach, the desired closedloop poles are selected considering the reasonable overshoot and rise
time.
To sole the closedloop eigenvalue problem, the gain parameter vector p is given by
T
g f g f
p k k d d =
(33)
Let us consider the right and left eigenvalue problems of the closedloop system.
right : ( )
left : ( )
i i a i
T
i i a i
A BK
A BK
=
= (34)
The objective is to find the parameter vector p that satisfies the design objectives: (i) to
assign some of the eigenvalues to a suitable region of the complex plane, and (ii) to maximize a
robustness of the closedloop system. Therefore, the problem of finding the parameter vector p is
stated as a nonlinear parameter optimization problem in which the closedloop eigenvalues become
the desired eigenvalues. In this study, the gain parameter vector is obtained using minimum norm
correction algorithm with the following constraint [9].
( ) ( ) 0
d
f p p = =
(35)
where `( ) `(ALK ( )), and ` is the desired eigenvalues.
Numerical Simulation and Performance Analysis.
In this section, numerical simulation is performed to evaluate the decentralized formation
flying control with control matrices described in the previous section. A threespacecraft
formation flying problem is considered. However, it can be easily extended to multiple spacecrafts
formation flying. The mission is that each spacecraft should fly passing through two waypoints.
64 Jonghee Bae and Youdan Kim
The formation patterns are chosen as follows.
0 1 2
30 0 30 40 60 80 130 150 170
0 , 30 , 0 , 60 , 90 , 60 , 140 , 190 , 140
0 0 0 70 70 70 20 20 20
P P P
= = =
where the unit of position is meter. The next desired target waypoints are updated when the
spacecrafts are passing by the current desired waypoints.
The natural frequency and damping ratio of desired eigenvalues are selected as 0.707 and
. 1.0 for fast response and little oscillation. Then, the desired eigenvalues are
[ ]
0.707 0.707 0.707 0.707
T
d
j j = +
The optimized gain matrices using eigenvalue assignment method are obtained as
3
3
3
3
0.9829
1.0018
1.4054
0.0029
g
f
g
f
K I
K I
D I
D I
=
=
=
=
Figure 1 shows how three spacecrafts fly passing through the desired waypoints in
threedimensional space. Each spacecraft moves to the first waypoint and changes to the next
waypoint as soon as it arrives. The formation shape becomes similar, and each spacecraft
converges to the final waypoint. Moreover, the trajectories of spacecrafts are pretty smooth
passing through the waypoints. Figures 2 and 3 illustrate the histories of position and quaternion,
respectively, and Fig. 4 shows the control input history. As shown in Fig. 4, the control inputs
are fluctuated much when the spacecraft change its direction toward the next waypoint. Fig. 5
shows the distance between spacecrafts. It describes that each spacecraft moves to the final goal
without any collision. Table 1 summarizes the convergence time and the consumption of control
inputs.
50
0
50
100
150
200
0
50
100
150
200
0
20
40
60
80
spacecraft 1
spacecraft 2
spacecraft 3
Fig. 1. Threedimensional Trajectories
Efficient Aerodynamic Computation of a Wing Model Considering Body Effect for the Aeroelastic Application 65
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
100
0
100
200
time, sec
x
p
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
,
m
e
t
e
r
x
1
x
2
x
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0
50
100
150
200
time, sec
y
p
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
,
m
e
t
e
r
y
1
y
2
y
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0
20
40
60
80
time, sec
z
p
o
s
i
t
i
o
n
,
m
e
t
e
r
z
1
z
2
z
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0.5
0
0.5
1
time, sec
q
u
a
t
e
r
n
i
o
n
1
q1
1
q1
2
q1
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0
0.5
1
time, sec
q
u
a
t
e
r
n
i
o
n
2
q2
1
q2
2
q2
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0
0.5
1
time, sec
q
u
a
t
e
r
n
io
n
3
q3
1
q3
2
q3
3
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
0
0.5
1
time, sec
q
u
a
t
e
r
n
io
n
4
q4
1
q4
2
q4
3
Fig. 2. Position History Fig. 3. Quaternion History
0 20 40 60 80 100
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
time, sec
x

a
x
i
s
f
o
r
c
e
,
N
u1
0 20 40 60 80 100
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
0.8
time, sec
y

a
x
i
s
f
o
r
c
e
,
N
0 20 40 60 80 100
0.4
0.2
0
0.2
0.4
0.6
time, sec
z

a
x
i
s
f
o
r
c
e
,
N
0 20 40 60 80 100
2
0
2
4
6
x 10
3
time, sec
x

a
x
i
s
t
o
r
q
u
e
,
K
g
m
u2
0 20 40 60 80 100
2
1
0
1
2
x 10
3
time, sec
y

a
x
i
s
t
o
r
q
u
e
,
K
g
m
0 20 40 60 80 100
2
1
0
1
2
3
x 10
3
time, sec
z

a
x
i
s
t
o
r
q
u
e
,
K
g
m
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
30
40
50
60
time, sec
d
i
s
t
a
n
c
e
b
t
w
n
1
a
n
d
2
,
m
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
30
40
50
60
time, sec
d
i
s
t
a
n
c
e
b
t
w
n
2
a
n
d
3
,
m
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90
20
40
60
80
time, sec
d
i
s
t
a
n
c
e
b
t
w
n
3
a
n
d
1
,
m
Fig. 4. Control Input History Fig. 5. Distance between Spacecrafts
Table 1. Spacecraft Formation Flying Performance
Convergence time to final waypints (s) 86.2339
Consumption of control force (N) 49.4755
Consumption of control torque (kg m) 0.1331
66 Jonghee Bae and Youdan Kim
Conclusions
In this paper, decentralized spacecraft formation flying method is proposed. The output
feedback linearization is applied for six degreeoffreedom spacecraft dynamics model. The goal
convergence and formation keeping error functions are adapted for decentralized formation flying.
To improve the performance of formation flying, optimal controller is designed based on
eigenvalue assignment technique. Numerical simulation results indicate that the proposed control
system can maintain the formation shape in the efficient way. The proposed method can be
applied not only for the satellite formation flying but also for the multiple vehicle formation
operation such as ground vehicles, mobile robots, and aerial robots.
Acknowledgement
This research has been supported by KARI under the KOMPSAT3 Development Program
that is funded by the MEST (Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology) of the Republic of
Korea.
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