Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Jonathan T. Black, PhD.


The purpose of this research was to parametrically investigate the viability of skip entry maneuvers as an alternative to vacuum-only maneuvers, and to identify whether skip entry maneuvers can extend spacecraft mission lifetime by limiting propellant expenditure through the exploitation of the aerodynamic interaction between the upper atmosphere and an example entry vehicle and remote-sensing orbital platform. Employing the X-37B Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) and a notional satellite design as the example entry vehicles, the entry profile dynamics of a skip entry maneuver were characterized with varying trajectory initial conditions such as entry altitude, entry flight-path angle, and vehicle aerodynamics. In addition, the requirements of skip entry maneuvers were characterized, specifically the required to complete one or more successive skip entry trajectories as well as to execute a desired change in orbit inclination angle.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number