Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

William E. Wiesel, PhD


When conducting a space proximity operation, developing high-fidelity estimates of the dynamical and physical properties of a Resident Space Object (RSO) based on post-rendezvous observational data acquired, is imperative for the understanding of the RSO itself and the operating environment. This research investigates the estimation of relative motion dynamics, rotational dynamics, and the feasibility of estimating the moments of inertia of a RSO. Using the Hill-Clohessy-Wiltshire equations, rigid-body dynamics, and estimation theory, a nonlinear least squares estimation algorithm is implemented in the processing of range data from tracked observation points on the RSO body. Through simulation, it was determined that accurately estimating the relative motion and rotational dynamics is possible. However directly estimating the moments of inertia using range data proved to be problematic and exposed a possible observability limitation. Yet in general, the solutions were heavily dependent on the quality of the a priori knowledge as well as the reduction of solution ambiguity through the use of multiple observational data sets.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number