Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Jonathan T. Black, PhD.


Reliable Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is a recognized requirement in the current congested, contested, and competitive environment of space operations. A shortage of available sensors and reliable data sources are some current limiting factors for maintaining SSA. Unfortunately, cost constraints prohibit drastically increasing the sensor inventory. Alternative methods are sought to enhance current SSA, including utilizing non-traditional data sources (external sensors) to perform basic SSA catalog maintenance functions. Astronomical data, for example, routinely collects serendipitous satellite streaks in the course of observing deep space; but tactics, techniques, and procedures designed to glean useful information from those collects have yet to be rigorously developed. This work examines the feasibility and utility of performing ephemeris positional updates for a Resident Space Object (RSO) catalog using metric data obtained from RSO streaks gathered by astronomical telescopes. The focus of this work is on processing data from three possible streak categories: streaks that only enter, only exit, or cross completely through the astronomical image. Successful use of this data will aid in resolving uncorrelated tracks, space object identification, and threat detection. Incorporation of external data sources will also reduce the number of routine collects required by existing SSA sensors, freeing them up for more demanding tasks. The results clearly demonstrate that accurate orbital reconstruction can be performed using an RSO streak in a distorted image, without applying calibration frames and that partially bound streaks provide similar results to traditional data, with a mean degradation of 6:2% in right ascension and 42:69% in declination. The methodology developed can also be applied to dedicated SSA sensors to extract data from serendipitous streaks gathered while observing other RSOs.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number


Included in

Astrodynamics Commons