Flexible Motor Controller Architecture for Spacecraft Applications



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2024 International Conference on Environmnetal Systems


Brushless DC (BLDC) motors are ubiquitous to spacecraft operation. BLDC Motors provide the driving force for many different components within ECLSS and TCS such as: valves, fans, blowers, pumps, and rotary separators. Specific to valve operation, several considerations come into play when developing a control system for a BLDC motor. Position sensing/indication, mass, power, volume, cost, radiation susceptibility, and maintainability are among primary design driving factors for developing a BLDC motor controller. Looking at the potential needs for valve control and design, a common product was developed to balance the design driving factors towards the end goal of cost reduction and simplifying on-orbit logistics and maintenance for future spacecraft. The flexible design supports a wide array of valve functions and can be maintained/removed without exposing the internal fluid to the spacecraft environment. The microcontroller-based design provides a simplified and abstracted serial data interface to the flight computer, enables low level hardware and software fault detection, allows modularity for adding additional application specific sensors and features without impacting vehicle avionics, simplifies channelization and wire harness to vehicle avionics, and allows for in field software updates. The design supports different part grades from automotive to grade 1 to optimize for the application. Additionally, key internal components have been tested to support the radiation and vibration environment encompassing many potential valve applications.


Connor Myers, Sierra Space, USA
Russell Wallace, Sierra Space, USA
Bradley Cowgill, Sierra Space, USA
Casey Rorabeck, Sierra Space, USA
Elias Tarver, Sierra Space, USA
David Carney, Sierra Space, USA
Sam Moffatt, Sierra Space, USA
Mike Bourget, Sierra Space, USA
George Heindl, Sierra Space, USA
ICES301: Advanced Life Support Systems Control
The 53rd International Conference on Environmental Systems was held in Louisville, Kentucky, USA, on 21 July 2024 through 25 July 2024.


Controller, BLDC Motor, Fans, Valves, Pumps