Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Steven G. Tragesser, PhD


This study investigated the feasibility of using a microsatellite to accomplish an orbital rendezvous with a noncooperative target, with a focus on the control laws necessary for achieving such a rendezvous. The relative motions of the microsatellite and the target satellite are described using Hill's equations. The results of an investigation of two different controller methodologies show that an impulsive thrust controller based on the Clohessey-Wiltshire solution used little fuel, but was not very robust. A continuous thrust controller using a Linear Quadratic Regulator was found to be more robust, but used much more fuel. As a final solution, a hybrid controller was evaluated which uses the low thrust Clohessey-Wiltshire approach to cover most of the necessary distance, and then switches to the Linear Quadratic Regulator method for the final rendezvous solution. Results show that this approach achieves rendezvous with a reasonable amount of control input.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number