AAS 99-121

Satellite Formation Flying Design and Evolution

C. Sabol, R. Burns, C.A. McLaughlin

Air Force Research Lab Space Vehicle Directorate, Kirtland AFB NM


This study investigates several satellite formation flying designs and their evolution through time. Satellite formation flying designs are derived from the equations of relative motion under two body dynamics better known as Hill's equations. The formation are then propagated forward in time in the presence of realistic perturbations to determine the stability of each design. Formations considered include in-plane, track, circular, and projected circular designs. The Draper Semianalytic Satellite Theory (DSST) is used to propagate the mean elements of the satellites. When perturbations disturb the satellite formations, and effort is made to quantify the cost of formation-keeping maneuvers. The goal of this effort is to provide physical insight into satellite formation flying design and outline the effect of realistic dynamics on those designs.