A novel characteristic model-based discrete adaptive sliding mode control (SMC) scheme is proposed for vibration attenuation of the space frame. First, this paper establishes a characteristic model as real time model for the space structure. The characteristic model is simple and accurate. Furthermore, a novel discrete sliding mode control strategy is proposed with low chattering and strong robustness. In addition, the stability of the closed-loop control system is proved. Finally, simulation results show the effectiveness and strong robustness of the proposed scheme.