SD2910 Spacecraft Dynamics 9.0 credits

Rymdfarkosters dynamik

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Course information

Content and learning outcomes

Course contents *

Part 1: Rigid body kinematics parameterizations in three dimensions: Direction cosine matrix, Euler angles, principal rotation vector, Euler parameters (quaternions), classical and modified Rodrigues parameters.

Part 2: Rigid body dynamics: angular momentum, kinetic energy and moment of inertia in three dimensions, Euler’s rotational equations of motion, torque-free rigid body rotation, dual-spin spacecraft, momentum exchange devices and gravity gradient stabilization.

Part 3: Nonlinear spacecraft stability and control: stability definitions, Lyapunov stability, Lyapunov functions, nonlinear feedback control laws, Lyapunov optimal control laws and linear closed-loop dynamics.

Intended learning outcomes *

After completing course the student should be able to:

  1. Demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding for the scientific basis and proven experience in attitude control of spacecraft, as well as insight into current research and development work.
  2. Demonstrate basic methodology and understanding of attitude control of spacecraft, including three-dimensional rotational kinematics, rigid body dynamics and non-linear regulation.
  3. Demonstrate the ability to critically and systematically integrate knowledge from previous courses to analyse, assess and deal with complex phenomena, problems and situations within attitude control of spacecraft, even with limited information.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to model, simulate, predict and evaluate the rotational motion and stability of spacecraft as well as their passive and active attitude control, even with limited information.
  5. Demonstrate ability to clearly present and discuss engineering conclusions and the knowledge and arguments behind them, in dialogue with different groups, orally and in writing, in international contexts.

For the higher grades, the student should also be able to

       6. Demonstrate in-depth methodology and understanding of attitude  control of spacecraft, including three-dimensional kinematics, rigid body dynamics and non-linear regulation.

Course Disposition

The lectures briefly introduce the topics and methods used to solve the problems on the problem sheets. The workshops are tutored and the students are strongly encouraged to work in groups. The problem sheets cannot be finished during scheduled hours, so work on problem sheets during non-scheduled hours is required to meet the deadlines.

Literature and preparations

Specific prerequisites *

Completed degree project on Bachelor level.

Recommended prerequisites

No information inserted


The software Matlab is used throughout the course. Students are expected to use their own computers to solve the problems on the homeworks.


Schaub, H. & Junkins, J. L. Analytical Mechanics of Space Systems, 2nd edition, AIAA Education Series, 2009.

Supplementary material in the form of research articles will be provided.

Examination and completion

Grading scale *

A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Examination *

  • PRO1 - Assignments with Oral Presentation, 4.0 credits, Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • TEN1 - Oral Examination, 5.0 credits, Grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Based on recommendation from KTH’s coordinator for disabilities, the examiner will decide how to adapt an examination for students with documented disability.

The examiner may apply another examination format when re-examining individual students.

Other requirements for final grade *

The participants are required to complete the following:

  • Four problem sheets, related to the four parts of the course. The problem sheets are released at given dates and have to be submitted for correction before given deadlines.
  • Oral presentation of selected problem sheet problems in front of class. The presenting students are randomly selected.
  • Oral examination on all four parts of the course.  

Opportunity to complete the requirements via supplementary examination

No information inserted

Opportunity to raise an approved grade via renewed examination

No information inserted


Gunnar Tibert

Further information

Course web

Further information about the course can be found on the Course web at the link below. Information on the Course web will later be moved to this site.

Course web SD2910

Offered by

SCI/Aeronautical and Vehicle Engineering

Main field of study *

Mechanical Engineering

Education cycle *

Second cycle

Add-on studies

No information inserted

Ethical approach *

  • All members of a group are responsible for the group's work.
  • In any assessment, every student shall honestly disclose any help received and sources used.
  • In an oral assessment, every student shall be able to present and answer questions about the entire assignment and solution.