Spacecraft attitude estimation using the nonlinear unscented filter is addressed to fully utilize capabilities of the unscented transformation. To release significant computational load, an efficient technique is proposed by reasonably removing correlation between random variables. This modification introduces considerable reduction of sigma points and computational burden in matrix square-root calculation for most nonlinear systems. Unscented filter technique makes use of a set of sample points to predict mean and covariance. The general QUEST(QUaternion ESTimator) algorithm preserves explicitly the quaternion normalization, whereas extended Kalman filter(EKF) implicitly obeys the constraint. For spacecraft attitude estimation based on quaternion, an approach to computing quaternion means from sampled quaternions with guarantee of the quaternion norm constraint is introduced applying a constrained optimization technique. Finally, the performance of the new approach is demonstrated using a star tracker and rate-gyro measurements.