An intelligent control concept for formation flying satellites Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper deals with the determination of initial conditions and the design of fuel-balancing orbit control laws for a formation of satellites. Hill's equations describe the linearized dynamics of relative motion between two satellites. They admit bounded relative orbit solutions as special cases. Predictably, these bounded solutions break down in the presence of nonlinearities and perturbations. A method for determining the initial conditions that result in quasi-periodic relative orbits over the short term, in the presence of J2 perturbation, is presented. The control acceleration or equivalently, the fuel required to cancel the perturbation on a satellite depends upon its orbital inclination with respect to that of the reference satellite. An intelligent control concept that exploits the physics of the relative motion dynamics is presented. Analysis shows that this concept minimizes the total fuel consumption of the formation and maintains equal, average fuel consumption for each satellite. The concept is implemented using a novel, disturbance accommodating control design process. Numerical simulations and analytical results are in excellent agreement with each other.

author list (cited authors)

  • Vadali, S. R., Vaddi, S. S., & Alfriend, K. T.

citation count

  • 65

publication date

  • February 2002