SmallSat Spacecraft – Modal interaction case

The SmallSat structure was conceived by EADS-Astrium (now Airbus Defence and Space) as a low-cost platform for small satellites in low earth orbits. It is a monocoque tube structure composed of eight flat faces for equipment mounting purposes, creating an octagon shape. The spacecraft structure supports a dummy telescope mounted on the top floor panel through a tripod. An inertia wheel is also present featuring a vibration isolation device.


  1. Model-test mismatch
  2. Unexpected resonance
  3. Inability to certify


  1. High testing cost
  2. High modeling cost
  3. Product launch delay

Root cause

The inertia wheel anti-vibration device presented strong nonlinear behavior. This nonlinear behavior triggered a nonlinear resonance mode that could not be predicted from linear models.


Proper identification of the nonlinear connection and creation of a nonlinear model allowed to properly represent the dynamics of the spacecraft structure.


Efficiency gain
Successful certification

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Launcher Nozzle Case

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