Torque equilibrium attitude control for Skylab reentryThe method of torque equilibrium attitude control used to control the reentry of Skylab to an altitude below 150 km without the use of thruster fuel once the attitude was established is discussed. The Skylab attitude and pointing control system, which included rate gyros, sun sensors, star tracker, the Apollo telescope mount digital computer, control moment gyros and cold-gas attitude thrusters, is presented. The 12 torque equilibrium attitudes found at which aerodynamic, gravity gradient and gyroscopic torques would balance are indicated, and the three of those at which the solar power supply would be adequate for attitude control are illustrated. The equilibrium seeking method employed is then examined, and the operation and performance of the torque equilibrium attitude control system during the three weeks prior to Skylab reentry are discussed. It is concluded that the torque equilibrium attitude control method developed for Skylab was successful in performing its assigned mission, and will be valuable for the design of future, low-altitude spacecraft or tethered vehicles.
Glaese, J. R. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, AL, United States)
Kennel, H. F. (NASA Marshall Space Flight Center Huntsville, Ala., United States)