Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard G. Cobb, PhD.


ABSTRACT As the catalog of Earth orbiting objects continues to grow exponentially, so too does the necessity for Space Situational Awareness (SSA). Previous work at AFIT has explored augmenting the Space Surveillance Network (SSN) by demonstrating detection and tracking of orbiting objects using Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) telescopes and Air Force generated Two-Line Element Sets (TLE). This research explores the process of developing and reengineering code into a modularized, hierarchical component architecture designed for the end user while enabling developers to continue to modify the software for future applications. Three graphical user interfaces (GUI) are compiled into standalone executable programs using MATLAB for propagating orbits, mapping, and performing observations. Previous AFIT in-house MATLAB code is further developed to be hardware agnostic and continue to operate on future operating systems. Finally, open-loop optical tracking of Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites is demonstrated using a Meade LX200GPS telescope with 100% of targets captured in the Orion 80mm spotting scope. The ultimate result of this work is a set of software tools available to students and researchers which can be further developed to realize a cost saving technology to meet the Air Force’s growing demand for SSA.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number