Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

William E. Wiesel, PhD


This study investigates the use of a linear quadratic terminal controller to reconfigure satellite formations using atmospheric drag actuated control while minimizing the loss of energy of the formation. The linearized Clohessy-Wiltshire equations of motion are used to describe the motion of the two-satellite formation about an empty reference position maintained at the formation center. Reconfigurations to final in-plane and elliptical formations are simulated at orbital radii of 6800 km and 7000 km, and the altitude loss and a ?v budget were recorded as performance measures for each reconfiguration. The final states of the spacecraft upon reconfiguration were propagated forward in time over 20 orbital periods to ensure the final conditions were achieved. Simulations proved that minimizing the loss of orbital energy effectively minimizes the loss in altitude, and drag actuated control is fully capable of controlling the radial and in-track motion of satellite formations, although the cross-track motion is uncontrollable.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number