Date of Award


Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering


Mechanical Engineering

Committee Chair

Dongeun Seo, Ph.D.

First Committee Member

Daewon Kim, Ph.D.

Second Committee Member

Darris White, Ph.D.


Small satellites have become increasingly popular over the past thirty years, particularly since the adoption of the common CubeSat architecture early this century. Because of their restricted volume and electrical budgets however, there are practical limits to the missions that small satellites may adopt. One potential near-term solution to the problem of limited electrical power may be the adoption of larger, flexible solar arrays. However, spacecraft with flexible appendages have historically presented attitude control challenges relating to platform stability given the dynamic response of the flexible components to applied torques. These challenges may be particularly disruptive to a small spacecraft with low inertia. Previous studies have examined minimizing the dynamic motion of flexible appendages via shaping control of the external torquers (attitude actuators), and damping the dynamic responses in various schemes.

This thesis presents the possible design of a new damper for the small, flexible spacecraft model. The design takes advantage of a smart material known as a magnetorheological (MR) fluid that was initially created in the 1940s, but has been subject to renewed interest over the past 30 years. A numerical model of the damper system is described and test articles with representative properties are subjected to dynamic testing to inform the model behavior. Completed simulation results for a spacecraft slewing maneuver are presented along with suggestions for future research and future design iterations.