Space-Rated Gimbal Motors For Satellite Communication

The use of gimbals is becoming pervasive in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) Satellites and even ground-based systems. A heavy reliance on gimbal-based systems is an important part of the Defense Agencies’ critical Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) objectives. In addition to defense, there are emerging uses in communications, and remote imaging applications.

Satellites use Gimbals for communication in a similar method for pointing and positioning, with the gimbals acting as the turret and gimbal unit alone, and a device called a fast-steering mirror delivering fine precision control that ensures a reliable optical data connection between satellites, either between low Earth orbit and geostationary satellites and between low Earth orbit satellites.

Multiaxial gimbals require high performance motors to directly drive their movements and to hold position. Advanced space-rated gimbal systems, like those used in Control Moment Gyroscopes (CMG), require a large amount of torque. In some cases, to move in both azimuth and elevation quickly and precisely, and in others to quickly compensate for external “tumbling” disturbances common in orbit.

One of the largest use-cases for ThinGap’s slotless motors are Gimbals, so much so that it considers itself to be the performance leader in Gimbal motors. From handheld applications for action cameras to large platforms designed for satellite-to-satellite communication, the applications of gimbals are endless. By using an array of different sensors and motors to counteract movement, electrically controlled gimbals serve to keep platforms stable and focused. Last summer, ThinGap delivered a series of motor kits to NASA for use in a space-based gimbal application, which serves as a testament to the quality and processes at ThinGap.

Using its proprietary design, thin wire-wrapped stators, and optimized permanent-magnet rotors, ThinGap provides motors with specifications that can match the torque output of slotted motors while avoiding the cogging that plagues them. Ring motors are the perfect form factor for gimbals with their round shape, direct drive mounting capability and empty center.

ThinGap’s motor kits offer a large through hole, usually 65% of more of the device’s outer diameter (OD), due to its efficient mechanical design and optimized components. ThinGap’s LS line of slotless motor kits range in size from 25 to 267 mm diameter and torque from 0.1 to 12 N-m continuous. With standard and modified configurations, the product line will cover voltages from 24-400 volts and current from 1 to 100 amps. Hall devices and special configurations are also available.

To learn more about the LS Series, click here.