Date of Award

Spring 4-27-2023

Access Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Riccardo Bevilacqua

First Committee Member

Morad Nazari

Second Committee Member

Richard Prazenica

College Dean

James W. Gregory


In the interest of exploiting natural forces for propellant-less spacecraft missions, this thesis proposes an adaptive control strategy to account for unknown parameters in the dynamic modeling of a reflectivity-controlled solar sail spacecraft. A Lyapunov-based control law along with integral concurrent learning is suggested to accomplish and prove global exponential tracking of the estimated parameters and states of interest, without satisfying the common persistence of excitation condition, which in most nonlinear systems cannot be guaranteed a priori. This involves estimating the solar flux or irradiance from the Sun to account for uncertainty and variation over time in this value. To illustrate potential applications, two missions are considered: (1) a geostationary debris removal case and (2) an Earth-Mars interplanetary transfer orbit following a logarithmic spiral reference trajectory. The proposed formulation demonstrates the benefit of estimating the solar flux using integral concurrent learning. Results are compared to trajectories with no estimation to illustrate the need to account for solar flux fluctuations.