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Development of Formation Deployment and Intialization ConceptsNASA's Cross-Cutting Technology Development Program identified formation flying as a key enabler for the next generation Earth and Sciences campaign. It is hoped that this technology will allow a distributed network of autonomous satellites to act collaboratively as a single collective unit paving the way for extensive co-observing campaigns, coordinated multi-point observing programs, improved space-based interferometry, and entirely new approaches to conducting science. APL as a team member with GSFC, funded by the Earth Sciences and Technology Organization (ESTO), investigated formation deployment and initialization concepts which is central to the formation flying concept. This paper presents the analytical approach and preliminary results of the study. The study investigated a simple mission involving the deployment of six micro-satellites, one at a time, from a bus. At the initialization state, the satellites fly in an along-track trajectory separated by nominal spacing. The study entailed the development of a two-body (bus and satellite) relative motion propagator based on Clohessy-Wiltshire (C-W) equations with drag from which the relative motion of the micro-satellites is deduced. This code was used to investigate cluster development characteristics subject to "tip-off' (ejection) conditions. Results indicate that cluster development is very sensitive to the ballistic coefficients of the bus and satellites, and to relative ejection velocity. This information can be used to identify optimum deployment parameters, along with accuracy bounds for a particular mission, and to develop a cluster control strategy minimizing global fuel and cost. A suitable control strategy concept has been identified, however, it needs to be developed further.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Badesha, Surjit S.
(Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, MD United States)
Heyler, Gene A.
(Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, MD United States)
Sharer, Peter J.
(Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, MD United States)
Strikwerda, Thomas E.
(Johns Hopkins Univ. Laurel, 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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