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Design of a Formation of Earth Orbiting Satellites: The Auroral Lites MissionThe National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) has proposed a set of spacecraft flying in close formation around the Earth in order to measure the behavior of the auroras. The mission, named Auroral Lites, consists of four spacecraft configured to start at the vertices of a tetrahedron, flying over three mission phases. During the first phase, the distance between any two spacecraft in the formation is targeted at 10 kilometers (km). The second mission phase is much tighter, requiring satellite interrange spacing targeted at 500 meters. During the final phase of the mission, the formation opens to a nominal 100-km interrange spacing. In this paper, we present the strategy employed to initialize and model such a close formation during each of these phases. The analysis performed to date provides the design and characteristics of the reference orbit, the evolution of the formation during Phases I and II, and an estimate of the total mission delta-V budget. AI Solutions' mission design tool, FreeFlyer(R), was used to generate each of these analysis elements. The tool contains full force models, including both impulsive and finite duration maneuvers. Orbital maintenance can be fully modeled in the system using a flexible, natural scripting language built into the system. In addition, AI Solutions is in the process of adding formation extensions to the system facilitating mission analysis for formations like Auroral Lites. We will discuss how FreeFlyer(R) is used for these analyses.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Goddard Space Flight Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hametz, Mark E.
(AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD United States)
Conway, Darrel J.
(AI Solutions, Inc. Lanham, MD United States)
Richon, Karen
(NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, MD United States)
Date Acquired
August 19, 2013
Publication Date
May 1, 1999
Publication Information
Publication: 1999 Flight Mechanics Symposium
Subject Category
Spacecraft Design, Testing And Performance
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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