Finite-time observer-based backstepping control of a flexible launch vehicle

Elodie Duraffourg, Laurent Burlion, Tarek Ahmed-Ali

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this paper, a longitudinal model of a space launch vehicle was developed using the Lagrange mechanism and a free–free Euler–Bernoulli beam model. The aim was to propose a model including one flexible mode plus a nonlinear aerodynamic coefficient for nonlinear control design. We then studied the output feedback problem raised by using such a nonlinear model. The main achievement is to propose a new finite-time state observer when the measured outputs are corrupted by an unidentified flexible mode. This effect may destabilize a classical backstepping control law applied to the rigid model. To achieve this, a backstepping control law was redesigned to damp out the flexible mode, once measured and characterized. Hence a new adaptive finite time observer was developed. Closed-loop simulations show the effectiveness of the observer in combination with a redesigned backstepping control law when sensors and the launcher nozzle are collocated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1535-1550
Number of pages16
JournalJVC/Journal of Vibration and Control
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Automotive Engineering
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Mechanics of Materials
  • Mechanical Engineering


  • Nonlinear control
  • backstepping
  • flexible modes
  • observer design

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