Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD


Algorithms are developed to find optimal guidance for an inspector satellite operating nearby a resident space object (RSO). For a non-maneuvering RSO, methods are first developed for a satellite subject to maximum slew rates to conduct an initial inspection of an RSO, where the control variables include the throttle level and direction of the thrust. Second, methods are developed to optimally maneuver a satellite with on/off thrusters into a natural motion circumnavigation or teardrop trajectory, subject to lighting and collision constraints. It is shown that for on/off thrusters, a control sequence can be parameterized to a relatively small amount of control variables and the relative states can be analytically propagated as a function of those control variables. For a maneuvering RSO, differential games are formulated and solved for an inspector satellite to achieve multiple inspection goals, such as aligning with the Sun vector or matching the RSO's energy. The developed algorithms lead to fuel and time savings which can increase the mission life and capabilities of inspector satellites and thus improve space situational awareness for the U.S. Air Force.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number