Fuel-Efficient Cross-Track Distance Establishment in Satellite Formations

Yonatan Amit-Shapira
Work towards MSc degree under the supervision of Professor Pini Gurfil (Technion)
Department of Aerospace Engineering
Technion – Israel Institute of Technology

Satellite formations have numerous applications. However, the initial establishment of such formations can require a high fuel expenditure, due to cross-track distance requirements. This work proposes a strategy to significantly reduce the fuel required for the formation establishment. Instead of direct out-of-plane maneuvers, it is suggested to use in-plane maneuvers, while utilizing natural forces, specifically the J2 perturbation. This methodology extends the establishment duration, and thus requires re-establishment of the along-track distance. Analytical expressions for the cross-track distance and the establishment duration are derived for the case of impulsive thrust, with and without drag. For many cases, the expected duration is reasonable, and the fuel saving is shown to be considerable.

For the continuous thrust case, optimal control methods were used. The proposed strategy is proven to be optimal for an example problem with two cases: limited and unlimited thrust magnitude. Finally, the cases of impulsive and continuous thrust are compared.

Zoom Meeting


The talk will be given in English

Wed, 09-09-2020, 16:30 (Zoom Meeting)


Fuel-Efficient Cross-Track Distance Establishment in Satellite Formations