As a result of the December meeting of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexey Tikhonov, Doctor of Physics and Mathematics, Professor at St Petersburg University, was awarded the Friedrich Tsander Prize – 2020 for his series of research works ‘Electrodynamic control and stabilisation of rotation of the spacecraft spin movement’.

tihonov a.a

The key result of Professor Tikhonov’s work was the world’s first discovery of the stabilising influence of the Lorentz Forces on rotational dynamics of a spacecraft relative to its centre of mass that had been made on the basis of nonlinear mathematical model. The study found possibilities for realising predefined modes of controlled rotation of a spacecraft and its three-axis stabilisation.     

The method of stabilising a spacecraft was published by Alexey Tikhonov in 2003 in the science journal ‘Cosmic Research’. Later the method was significantly developed and its technical decision was patented. It was proved that electrodynamic effects caused by the interaction of the geomagnetic field with moving relative to a satellite, a spacecraft or a station due to the Lorentz and magnetic forces, could serve as a basis for synthesis of control systems and stabilisation of its angular position. As a result, the scientists of St Petersburg University presented a new electrodynamic method of stabilisation of the angular position of space crafts. It is now widely known among the leading foreign research centres of the USA (NASA and AIAA), China, India, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others.  

I consider this award to be an identification of the priority role of Russia in one of the fields of space science. It is very satisfying that our research has received recognition and appreciation of the most distinguished expert community.

Alexey Tikhonov, Professor at St Petersburg University

‘Our research was carried out at St Petersburg University. We discovered rather simple and practical conditions of control of space crafts, that guarantee asymptotic stability of the programmed movement of a space craft relative to its centre of mass,’ Alexey Tikhonov said. ‘Synthesised electrodynamic control allows to enhance efficiency of stabilisation of a space craft in the conditions of resources saving on board and refusal to use reactive control systems. The achieved results are applicable for angular stabilisation of orbital objects of various purposes in the conditional of near-Earth space flight.’

Three years ago, electrodynamic control was used for resolving a very well-known and widely discussed issue of disequilibrium of electrodynamic tether system (EDTS). The research of Alexey Tikhonov helped to extend the scope of electrodynamic tether system for solving an actual problem of removing non-functioning space crafts from the Earth orbit. The professor also suggested a new approach to the synthesis of active controlling momentum and a design of a relevant damping device for stabilising electrodynamic tether system in orientation along the local vertical. These results are protected by two patents in Russia (2018, 2019) and one Eurasian patent (2020).

Professor Tikhonov has been working on electrodynamic control of rotation of orbital objects for 20 years. The results of his research enabled the achievement of a number of new and original results. They were published in more than 50 papers in reviewed science journals of the Russian Academy of Sciences, prestigious foreign journals, and six Russian patents for inventions. Also, a candidate’s dissertation was defended on this topic under Professor Tikhonov’s supervision.  

The presented series of research papers is an interconnected set of studies united by the common topic, actual at the current stage of the development of space dynamics. All the studies are carried out at a high scientific level and are of theoretical and practical importance. They provide priority for Russia in the field of electrodynamic control of rotation of space apparatuses relative to its centre of mass.

Excerpt from the Resolution of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences

The Tsander Prize is awarded for outstanding theoretical works in the sphere of space rocket science. Earlier it was awarded to an associate professor at St Petersburg University Elena Polyakhova (2005) for her monograph ‘Flights of a spacecraft with a solar sail’.