The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 135–149 | Cite as

Preliminary orbit determination of a tethered satellite using the f and g series

  • D. A. Cicci
  • C. Qualls


A renewed interest in the deployment of tethered satellites has led to a need for a preliminary orbit determination method which is capable of distinguishing tethered satellites from untethered ones. Several of the classical preliminary orbit determination methods, which are used for Keplerian satellites, generally require two or more position vectors along with their respective observation times in order to determine a preliminary orbital element set. These conventional methods, however, are unable to distinguish between Keplerian and tethered satellites, whose motion is modified due to the presence of a tether force. The use of these conventional methods will result in the calculation of inaccurate orbital elements if the observed satellite is part of a tethered satellite system. Modifications have been made to the f and g series preliminary orbit determination method in order to allow for the identification of tethered satellites. These modifications allow for the calculation of a gravitational parameter, in addition to a set of orbital elements, which can be used to distinguish between a tethered satellite and an untethered one. This paper applies this modified f and g series method to the problem of the quick identification of a tethered satellite. The performance of this method is evaluated through scenarios of differing tether lengths, levels of observation error, and orbital eccentricities. Due to the desire for the preliminary orbit determination to be achieved quickly, only short time intervals between observations were considered. A description of how this preliminary orbit information can be used to obtain tether parameters for the subsequent differential correction process is also provided.


Orbital Element Orbit Determination Orbital Eccentricity Keplerian Satellite Differential Correction 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. [1]
    SNOW, D. E. and KAYA, D.A. “Short Arc Orbit Determination Using Angles-Only Space Based Observations,” presented as paper AAS 92-112 at the AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, Colorado Springs, CO, February 24–26, 1992.Google Scholar
  2. [2]
    CHO, S., COCHRAN, J. E., JR., and CICCI, D. A. “Identification and Orbit Determination of Tethered Satellite Systems,” Applied Mathematics and Computation,Vol. 117, 2001, pp. 301–312.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. [3]
    COCHRAN, J. E., JR., CHO, S., LOVELL, A., and CICCI, D.A. “Evaluation of the Information Contained in the Motion of One Satellite of a Two-Satellite Tethered System,” The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 48, No. 4, 2007, pp. 477–493.Google Scholar
  4. [4]
    CHO, S., COCHRAN, J. E., JR. and CICCI, D.A. “Approximate Solution for Tethered Satellite Motion,” AIAA Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics, Vol. 24, No. 4, 1999, pp. 746–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. [5]
    CICCI, D. A., LOVELL, T. A., and QUALLS, C. “A Filtering Method for the Identification of a Tethered Satellite,” The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2001, pp. 309–326.Google Scholar
  6. [6]
    CICCI, D. A., QUALLS, C., and LOVELL, T.A. “A Look at Tethered Satellite Identification Using Ridge-Type Estimation Methods,” Applied Mathematics and Computation, Vol. 119, 2001, pp. 297–316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. [7]
    COCHRAN, J. E., JR., CHO, S., LOVELL, A., and CICCI, D.A. “Modeling Tethered Satellite Systems for Identification and Orbit Determination,” The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 48, No. 1, 2001, pp. 89–108.Google Scholar
  8. [8]
    KESSLER, S. A. and CICCI, D.A. “Filtering Methods for the Orbit Determination of a Tethered Satellite,” The Journal of the Astronautical Sciences, Vol. 45, No. 3, 1997, pp. 263–278.Google Scholar
  9. [9]
    HOOTS, F. R., RODHRICH, R. L., and SZEBEHELY, V. G. “Space Shuttle Tethered Satellite Analysis,” D06 TM 83-5, AFSPACECOM Directorate of Astrodynamics, Peterson AFB, CO, August 1983.Google Scholar
  10. [10]
    ESCOBAL, P. Methods of Orbit Determination, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, NY, 1965.Google Scholar
  11. [11]
    QUALLS, C. and CICCI, D.A. “Preliminary Orbit Determination of a Tethered Satellite,” presented as paper AAS 00-191 at the AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, Clearwater, FL, January 23–26, 2000.Google Scholar
  12. [12]
    BATE, R. R., MUELLER, D.D., and WHITE, J. E. Fundamentals of Astrodynamics, Dover Publications, Inc., New York, NY, 1971.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Automotive Media 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • D. A. Cicci
    • 1
  • C. Qualls
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Aerospace EngineeringAuburn UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations