Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Aerospace Engineering Sciences

First Advisor

Hanspeter Schaub

Second Advisor

Penina Axelrad

Third Advisor

Jeffrey Parker


Solar radiation pressure alters satellites' eccentricity by accelerating and decelerating them during each orbit. The accumulated perturbation cancels yearly for geostationary satellites, but meanwhile the perigee radius changes. Disposed satellites must be reorbited higher to compensate, using more fuel. The examined disposal orbit points toward the Sun and uses the satellite's natural eccentricity. This causes the eccentricity vector to only change direction, keeping the perigee radius constant. This thesis verifies this behavior over one year with an analytical derivation and MATLAB simulation, gaining useful insights into its cause. The traditional and proposed disposal orbits are then modeled using NASA's GMAT for more realistic simulations. The proposed orbit's sensitivity to satellite and initialization errors is also examined. Relationships are developed to show these errors' effect on the perigee radius. In conclusion, while this orbit can be used in the short term, margins are necessary to guarantee protection of the geostationary belt.