Low Earth orbit satellite constellation control using atmospheric drag
Thesis (PhD (Electrical and Electronic Engineering))--University of Stellenbosch, 1997.
This dissertation considers the feasibility of using atmospheric drag to control constellations of micro-satellites in low Earth orbits. The constellation control requirements include an acquisition phase and a maintenance phase. Optimal strategies are designed to control the relative positions of the satellites during these two phases. It is shown that the feasibility and success of the strategies depend on many factors, including the satellite properties and orbital configuration. A nominal test constellation is presented and used as a generic example for the application of the control strategies. The dissertation also focuses on the accurate modelling and simulation of a typical low Earth orbit satellite, moving under the influence of a variety of significant orbit perturbation forces. The simulations form an integral part of the study and are used to verify the application of all the proposed control strategies.