Orbit establishment for formation flying of satellites Academic Article uri icon


  • This paper deals with the establishment of a formation of satellites in a cooperative manner. The mathematical model for the satellite dynamics includes the effect of J2 perturbation. The objective is to create the maximum possible inclination difference between two satellites per orbit, subject to thrust magnitude constraints as well as constraints on relative mean orbit elements and their rates. Two strategies are investigated. The first strategy is to put less emphasis on the relative mean orbit element rate constraints in the solution to the maximization problem, with the tacit assumption that the rate constraints will be established after the inclination change is achieved. The second strategy is to require accurate satisfaction of the rate constraints at the end of one orbit period. It is shown that the rate constraints conflict with the objective of maximizing the inclination difference between the two satellites. However, the second strategy, though more conservative, results in a formation at the end of each orbit. The study also investigates the effect of using multiple impulses per orbit and allowing both or only one of the satellites to maneuver. It is observed that when normalized with the fuel consumption, maneuvering one satellite only is more efficient than maneuvering both the satellites.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Vadali, S. R., & Vaddi, S.

complete list of authors

  • Vadali, SR||Vaddi, S

publication date

  • December 2000