Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Hanspeter Schaub

Second Advisor

George Born

Third Advisor

Penina Axelrad


In order to extend and preserve the mission of an earth orbiting satellite it is imperative that the on board maneuvers do not waste propulsion but maneuver the spacecraft optimally. The challenge for ground stations is to plan maneuvers for spacecraft that will achieve a desired orbit while minimizing fuel costs. Increasing this challenge is the addition of specific keep-out zones (constraints on the spacecraft). For example, a low-earth orbiter (LEO) may need to maintain a specific orbit plane for a sun-synchronous imaging mission but it now has to contend with opposing debris. Computing a maneuver to avoid the debris could have consequences to the mission constraints and cause undesired affects to the desired orbit. The purpose of this research is to develop some techniques that can aid in finding some optimal maneuvers (or maneuvers that use the least amount of energy) and will maintain mission requirements while preserving constraints.

Two different models will be developed that can minimize energy used in the maneuvers. The first model is a linear set of impulsive maneuvers derived from the Clohessy-Wilshire Equations. This model can be used as a targeting equation for targeting a specific relative orbit that also minimizes the total energy among a series of maneuvers. The second method is a nonlinear model using a Lyapunov Function in a feedback control loop; where the position of a spacecraft relative to a target orbit is minimized and the reference motion can be used to create keep-out zones.