2nd Place Airbus Defence & Space Challenge

SPUTNIC-Piezo: Spacewheel Unbalance TerminatioN with Intelligent Control of Piezoactuators

Manufacturing tolerances and the related imbalances in reaction wheels lead to vibrations in satellite structures. These vibrations are detrimental to the performance of sensitive payloads such as telescopes and cameras, which can produce poor image quality as a result (see illustration). SPUTNIC technology combines piezoelectric actuators with conventional ball-bearings to support rotating wheels. Since the unbalanced wheel is allowed to spin on its main axis of inertia, SPUTNIC‘s sophisticated control algorithm nearly eliminates all imbalance vibrations. This innovation not only reduces the stress on components to increase their useful life; it also enables sensitive payloads to reach their full potential.


  • Eliminates vibrations in reaction wheels
  • Enables sensitive payloads to achieve optimal performance
  • Simple, lightweight structure with low energy consumption
  • Failsafe design enables reaction wheels to remain functional even when system is inactive


TU Darmstadt – Institut für Mechatronische Systeme im Maschinenbau (IMS)
Darmstadt, Germany
Stefan Heindel

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