Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD


Within the last decade, many new technologies have significantly changed the face of private astronomy. Developments such as inexpensive but high-quality sensors, rapid personal computing, and easy networking inspire a reexamination of an old problem: how practical is it to develop initial orbit estimates for Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites using optical tracking? This paper documents the design and implementation of a commercial telescope system used to answer precisely that question. This analysis deter- mined there are some challenging barriers to successful single-site orbit determination, but it is possible given the right conditions. Considering the low cost and small sup- port footprint of such systems, they could provide excellent support to Space Situational Awareness (SSA) missions or satellite tracking operations in general.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number


Included in

Astrodynamics Commons