Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

WillIam E. Wiesel, PhD


This research effort analyzes the fundamental dynamics governing a satellite with a gravity gradient boom and a tethered balloon. Satellites that use gravity gradient booms for passive attitude control are characterized by undamped pitch oscillations and no roll control. The tethered balloon acts as a high drag device that accounts for the most drag on the satellite system. By attaching a drag device, the system resists rolling movements while also damping oscillations. This could potentially be a cost effective method for increasing satellite stabilization. The goal of this research is to model the dynamics and determine the feasibility of a gravity gradient stabilized satellite with an attached balloon. A simulation written in Matlab analyzes the behavior of such a satellite. The research is limited to circular orbits around a spherical Earth and includes only in-plane motion for each mass. Stable ranges for certain tether characteristics are found for three different satellites.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number