Formation flying satellites: Control by an astrodynamicist Academic Article uri icon


  • Satellites flying in formation is a concept being pursued by the Air U.S. Force and NASA. Potential periodic formation orbits have been identified using Hill's (or Clohessy Wiltshire) equations. Unfortunately the gravitational perturbations destroy the periodicity of the orbits and control will be required to maintain the desired orbits. Since fuel will be one of the major factors limiting the system lifetime it is imperative that fuel consumption be minimized. To maximize lifetime we not only need to find those orbits which require minimum fuel we also need for each satellite to have equal fuel consumption and this average amount needs to be minimized. Thus, control of the system has to be addressed, not just control of each satellite. In this paper control of the individual satellites as well as the constellation is addressed from an astrodynamics perspective. 2001 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Alfriend, K. T., Vadali, S. R., & Schaub, H.

citation count

  • 19

complete list of authors

  • Alfriend, KT||Vadali, SR||Schaub, H

publication date

  • September 2001