A spacecraft is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft is used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and space tourism. Spacecraft and space travel are common themes in works of science fiction. A spacecraft system comprises various subsystems, dependent upon mission profile such as

  • Life support
  • Spacecraft intended for human spaceflight must also include a life support system for the crew.

  • Attitude control
  • A Spacecraft needs an attitude control subsystem to be correctly oriented in space and respond to external torques and forces properly. The attitude control subsystem consists of sensors and actuators, together with controlling algorithms. The attitude control subsystem permits proper pointing for the science objective, sun pointing for power to the solar arrays and earth-pointing for communications.

  • GNC
  • Guidance refers to the calculation of the commands (usually done by the CDH subsystem) needed to steer the spacecraft where it is desired to be. Navigation means determining a spacecraft's orbital elements or position. Control means adjusting the path of the spacecraft to meet mission requirements. On some missions, GNC and Attitude Control are combined into one subsystem of the spacecraft.

  • Command and data handling
  • The CDH subsystem receives commands from the communications subsystem, performs validation and decoding of the commands, and distributes the commands to the appropriate spacecraft subsystems and components. The CDH also receives housekeeping data and science data from the other spacecraft subsystems and components, and packages the data for storage on a data recorder or transmission to the ground via the communications subsystem. Other functions of the CDH include maintaining the spacecraft clock and state-of-health monitoring.

    Posted 2010-12-14 and updated on Dec 14, 2010 3:44pm by crisd

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