Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Christopher D. Geisel, PhD.


As economics drive an increased demand for small satellites and, consequently, an increase in the number of satellites deployed per launch, different deployment schemes and their effects on satellite dynamics must be well understood. While there are advantages to deploying multiple satellites at once, users may have trouble with tracking, identifying, and communicating with their satellites. This investigation examines the deployment of eight 3U CubeSats, and the resulting relative motion within a constellation. Both the distance between any two satellites within a constellation and the volume of a polygon encompassing a constellation are used to analyze the satellite dynamics within a constellation. Deployment schemes differ from one another by varying the deployment geometry, by delaying the ejection of specific CubeSats relative to one another, the deployment location, and the separation velocity imparted upon the CubeSats for various mission types. This investigation presents several conclusions. Delaying the deployment of part of a constellation increases the maximum volume of the constellation over the first 24 hours while varying long term effects. Deployments into the plane normal to the velocity vector of the deployer result in minimal dispersal of a constellation. Finally, lower constellation deployment altitudes disperse a constellation faster.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number