Hakan San

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Steven T. Tragesser, PhD


Considerably short electrodynamic tethers can be used as a low-thrust propulsion system with minimum or no mass expenditure. The propulsive force is generated by inducing a current flow through the tether which interacts with the magnetosphere of the planet (i.e. Earth, Jupiter and other planetary bodies with magnetosphere). The basics of electrodynamic tether systems have been studied and successful experiments such as boost and de-boost of spacecraft have been conducted in the past. This study presents a simple guidance scheme for the current in the tether in order to perform orbital maneuvers. The general perturbation equations are used to develop the guidance scheme algorithm. The tether is assumed to be perfectly aligned with the local vertical and the tether flexibility is neglected. The guidance is capable of both in-plane and out-of-plane maneuvers, simultaneously changing the orbit parameters. Several numerical examples are simulated that demonstrate the ability of the guidance to accurately maneuver the vehicle. The simplicity of the guidance law allows it to be suitable for mission planning and on-board implementation.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number