Spaceflight Now: Breaking News

'PseudoGyro' can save satellites from failure
Posted: January 29, 2001

Software developed by The Aerospace Corporation can save satellites from failure, extend the on-orbit life of satellites with ailing hardware gyros, and save large sums of money in insurance costs, among other benefits.

The invention, called PseudoGyro, emulates a hardware gyro through software processes. It was successfully demonstrated in 1999 when it was employed by members of the Aerospace technical staff to extend the life of an experimental government satellite, which had experienced failures of its primary and secondary hardware gyros.

PseudoGyro was originally developed for use on a critical national security program satellite, which was facing added development costs and schedule delays because of limitations associated with its gyro. Use of PseudoGyro saved the government more than $15 million in acquisition costs. The invention, patented by Aerospace in 2000, is being prepared for use in a number of other satellites and the technology is available for use in the commercial sector.

PseudoGyro works in conjunction with orbital-attitude-estimation filtering techniques and takes advantage of all available sensors, including the vehicle itself, in determining attitude. It uses the principle of conservation of momentum to accurately determine the angular velocity of a spacecraft. It can be applied to virtually all types of space vehicles that are controlled by any type of momentum storage device.

Using PseudoGyro can increase spacecraft reliability, extend operational life, reduce power consumption, save money on insurance premiums, and preserve operating revenue. Current applications include backup for failed gyros, gyro life extension, improved spacecraft performance, and augmentation of systems reduced to two or fewer gyros.

The technology can be integrated before or after a satellite is in orbit. For satellites already on orbit, ground simulations can be performed to ensure successful implementation. The software can be quickly uploaded and pressed into operation.

Researchers at The Aerospace Corporation said that PseudoGyro addresses the need to reduce the risks and costs associated with new technology gyros, such as ring-laser, fiber-optic and hemispherical resonator devices, which have been replacing traditional spinning mass gyros. It is one of several advanced technologies developed at Aerospace which have applications beyond their original use.

The Aerospace Corporation, with headquarters in El Segundo, Calif., is an independent, nonprofit company that provides objective technical analyses and assessments for national security space programs and selected civil and commercial space programs in the national interest.