Spotlight: CMG’s for small satellites

Thank you satsearch for posting this article helping to demystify the use of Control Moment Gyroscopes for small satellite applications!

Control moment gyroscopes (CMGs) are actuators used for satellite pointing control purposes, such as refocusing of mirrors, scanning mechanisms, optical path adjustments, and also for a range of mechanical activities in space exploration. They can operate complementary to, or in the same manner as, some functions of reaction wheels, attitude control thrusters, magnetorquers, and other similar sub-systems.

In particular, CMGs are increasingly being seen as a highly suitable actuator technology for Earth Observation (EO) satellites, as such systems have demanding pointing requirements. In larger systems, the type and quality of the imagery data collected can also depend on the agility of the satellite itself.

In addition, across all form factors, enhanced agility allows satellites to access off-nadir angles and collect imagery faster than simply waiting until the next available pass. Agility offers more flexibility on collection planning, allows shooting between clouds, and can shorten the time between imagery request and delivery.

As a result, greater agility is opening up new business models for satellite operators, such as the development of more advanced and efficient EO services or the creation of new remote sensing systems based on established optical payloads.

In this article, we provide an overview of CMG manufacturer VEOWARE Space and give some examples of past and current work in this area.