Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Jonathan T. Black, PhD.


Each year multiple satellites are launched to provide end users key pieces of information. This information ranges from remote sensing data for military or civilian purposes (e.g., weather forecasting, troop movements, agricultural production, etc.) to large bandwidth telecommunications sensors. No matter the type of information needed, society is demanding more. Because of this continual rise in information needs, the current model of launching one satellite for one mission is not sustainable. To satisfy the information needs of nations across the globe, a means for satellites to transition from one mission type to another must be developed. One means of transitioning from one mission to another involves using the aerodynamic forces experienced in the upper atmosphere to maneuver the spacecraft. This research involves the use of aerodynamic forces on a spacecraft to conduct in-plane and out of plane maneuvers. It is assumed a satellite can use a small thruster to maintain an altitude within the upper atmosphere and use aerodynamic forces to conduct maneuvers. Comparisons will be made between satellites with nominal small force thrusters and satellites utilizing an aerodynamic design. Key focus areas will be the amount of fuel saved for similar maneuvering profiles and the amount of orbital changes possible. This study will use the Gaussian Variation of Parameter equations to calculate the thrust, aerodynamic, and orbital perturbations in a MATLAB code designed for modeling the space environment.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number


Included in

Astrodynamics Commons