A Full Disturbance Model for Reaction Wheels

M.P. Le, Marcellinus Hermannus Maria Ellenbroek, R Seiler, P. van Put, E.J.E. Cottaar

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

    1 Citation (Scopus)


    Reaction wheels are rotating devices used for the attitude control of spacecraft. However, reaction wheels also generate undesired disturbances in the form of vibrations, which may have an adverse effect on the pointing accuracy and stability of spacecraft (optical) payloads. A disturbance model for reaction wheels was developed at Moog Bradford by combining empirical and theoretical models. The empirical data is obtained from a highly accurate reaction wheel characterization test setup from the European Space Agency and includes disturbance signals of ball bearings transmitted through the structures of the reaction wheel assembly. The theoretical model is derived from the equation of motion of a rigid rotor and a disc supported by two ball bearings including static, dynamic unbalances, structural modes and gyroscopic effects of the wheel rotor. To fully model the disturbance signature of the wheel, the bearing stiffness is formulated as a function of ball pass frequency and the flexibility of the supporting structural items like the reaction wheels housing are included. Finally, the empirical model is added into the theoretical model as excitations to form a full disturbance model for reaction wheels. The resulting combined model is then validated by tests on different types of Moog Bradford reaction wheels. The validated disturbance model is used to evaluate the pointing performance of spacecraft as well as to predict micro-disturbance performance for future reaction wheel designs.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publication26th ASME Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise
    Place of PublicationBuffalo, USA
    Number of pages10
    Publication statusPublished - 17 Aug 2014
    Event26th ASME Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise 2014 - Buffalo, United States
    Duration: 17 Aug 201420 Aug 2014
    Conference number: 26


    Conference26th ASME Conference on Mechanical Vibration and Noise 2014
    CountryUnited States


    • IR-96978
    • METIS-311434

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