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This study investigates variable structure reliable control issues of nonlinear systems and its applications to spacecraft attitude tracking problems. The proposed passive reliable control laws must know in advance which group of actuators is allowed to fail. These reliable controllers need not the solution of Hamilton-Jacobi (HJ) equation or inequality that are essentials in optimal approaches such as LQR and H∞ reliable designs. As a matter of fact, this approach is able to relax the computational load in computing the solution of HJ equation. The proposed reliable designs are also applied to spacecraft attitude tracking problems to explain their effectiveness and benefits. Finally, simulation results and comparisons between LQR and variable structure control (VSC) reliable designs are presented to illustrate the merits of the proposed scheme. Although the proposed design is a passive one, it may provide a guideline for active design when a fault detection and diagnosis (FDD) scheme is available.