momentum wheel

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The massive electrically-powered reaction wheels used to stabilize a spacecraft's attitude. They are mounted on board in three axes at right angles. The spacecraft can be rotated in one direction by spinning the relevant wheel in the opposite direction. If the wheel is slowed down, the vehicle will rotate back. Momentum wheels add weight to a spacecraft but give it a steadier attitude than thrusters can provide.

Subjects: Astronomy and Astrophysics.

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