SMDE - Spaceborne Motor Drive Electronics

The objective of this study was to assess the requirements of past and near future space missions and to conduct a technology and topology survey. The results of this survey allowed selecting concepts for power electronics building blocks, with the help of which spaceborne motors, that drive different kinds of mechanisms, can be controlled.

Short Description

Onboard of satellites many subsystems comprise mechanisms that serve either to secure the functioning of the platform, such as solar array drive mechanisms and thruster pointing mechanisms (example see picture) or to support the operation of the payload, such as deployment systems, antenna position systems, high-speed pumps etc.

Moreover, the electrical subsystem comprising motor and electronics was studied in detail by choosing a specific motor and analyzing the drive electronics in view of avoiding oscillations and shocks in the system. The generation of smooth control signals for motor movement is of high importance in order to increase the performance of the unit.

For this purpose, the Institute of Electrical Drives and Machines of the Vienna University of Technology supported RUAG Space by building a simulation model based on measurements of a real two phase permanent magnet stepper motor. The model is used to simulate the motor dynamics as accurately as possible, in order to optimize the design of the drive electronics. It is further used to test different drive design concepts and to find the most promising approach for future projects.

Project Partners


RUAG Space GmbH - Wolfgang Mayer


Vienna University of Technology, Institute of Electrical Drives and Machines - Prof. Johann Ertl

Contact Address

RUAG Space GmbH
Wolfgang Mayer
Stachegasse 16
A-1120 Vienna
Tel.: +43 (1) 80199 2790