Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

John A Christian

Committee Co-Chair

Patrick Browning

Committee Member

Jason Gross

Committee Member

Andrew Lowery

Committee Member

Mario Perhinschi


NASA and other space agencies have shown interest in sending humans on missions beyond low Earth orbit. Proposed is an algorithm that estimates the attitude of a manned spacecraft using measured line-of-sight (LOS) vectors to stars and gyroscope measurements. The Manual Optical Attitude Reinitialization (MOAR) algorithm and corresponding device draw inspiration from existing technology from the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. The improvement over these devices is the capability of estimating gyro bias completely independent from re-initializing attitude. It may be applied to the lost-in-space problem, where the spacecraft's attitude is unknown.;In this work, a model was constructed that simulated gyro data using the Farrenkopf gyro model, and LOS measurements from a spotting scope were then computed from it. Using these simulated measurements, gyro bias was estimated by comparing measured interior star angles to those derived from a star catalog and then minimizing the difference using an optimization technique. Several optimization techniques were analyzed, and it was determined that the Broyden-Fletcher-Goldfarb-Shanno (BFGS) algorithm performed the best when combined with a grid search technique. Once estimated, the gyro bias was removed and attitude was determined by solving the Wahba Problem via the Singular Value Decomposition (SVD) approach. Several Monte Carlo simulations were performed that looked at different operating conditions for the MOAR algorithm. These included the effects of bias instability, using different constellations for data collection, sampling star measurements in different orders, and varying the time between measurements. A common method of estimating gyro bias and attitude in a Multiplicative Extended Kalman Filter (MEKF) was also explored and disproven for use in the MOAR algorithm.;A prototype was also constructed to validate the proposed concepts. It was built using a simple spotting scope, MEMS grade IMU, and a Raspberry Pi computer. It was mounted on a tripod, used to target stars with the scope and measure the rotation between them using the IMU. The raw measurements were then post-processed using the MOAR algorithm, and attitude estimates were determined. Two different constellations---the Big Dipper and Orion---were used for experimental data collection. The results suggest that the novel method of estimating gyro bias independently from attitude in this document is credible for use onboard a spacecraft.