Spin-stabilisation is the method of stabilizing a satellite or launch vehicle by means of spin. For most satellite applications this approach has been superseded by three-axis stabilisation. It is also used in non-satellite applications such as rifle and artillery.

Despinning can be achieved by various techniques, including yo-yo de-spin.


On rockets with a solid motor upper stage, spin stabilization is used to keep the motor from drifting off course as they don't have their own thrusters. Usually small rockets are used to spin up the spacecraft and rocket then fire the rocket and send the craft off.

Rockets that use spin stabilization

  • Jupiter C upper stages
  • Delta II on some flights
  • Minotaur V
  • Aryabhata India's first satellite also used this stabilization technique

The Pioneer 4 spacecraft, the second object sent on a lunar flyby in 1959, maintained its attitude using spin-stabilization.[1]

The Schiaparelli EDM lander was spun up to 2.5 RPM before being ejected from the ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter prior to its attempted landing on Mars in October 2016.[2]

Another spin-stabilized spacecraft is Juno, which arrived at Jupiter orbit in 2016.

In operation as a third stage, the Star 48 rocket booster sits on top of spin table, and before it is separated it is spun up to stabilize it during the separation from the previous stage.[3]

See also


  1. ^ Jet Propulsion Laboratory (under contract for NASA) (1959). "The Moon Probe Pioneer IV" (PDF). NASA-JPL. Retrieved 2017-02-26. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ http://spaceflight101.com/exomars/schiaparelli-edm/
  3. ^ Muolo, Michael J. (November 1993). Space Handbook: A War Fighter's Guide to Space, V. 1. Government Printing Office. p. 126. ISBN 978-0-16-061355-5.