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The Rotational Dynamics of Mir

Michael Foale
Organization: NASA

1998 WorldWide Mathematica Conference
Conference location

Chicago, IL

The Russian Space Station Mir is a solid body with unequal principal moments of inertia. Free body rotations, initially begun about the middle principal axis, in general develop into rotations about the other pair of axes in the course of free motion. This motion is problematic for a station that has lost attitude control and must maintain its solar arrays directed toward the sun to maintain electrical power. This paper uses methods of Euler to calculate the resultant motion of Mir in inertial space, with given total angular momentum and specified initial angular velocities about the solid body axes. The results are used to illustrate the difficulty of setting up an initial free rotation suitable to provide constant illumination of the Mir solar arrays.

*Engineering > Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering

free body rotation, principal axes, Euler method
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