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Planetary Spacecraft Navigation

  • Offers an in-depth look into the resources and technologies used at the Jet Propulsion Laboratories, including the Deep Space Network

  • Explains the mathematical reasoning behind navigation computer programs

  • Examines the success and failure of real-world navigation theory application in previous space missions


Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 37)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. James Miller
    Pages 1-49
  3. James Miller
    Pages 51-93
  4. James Miller
    Pages 95-155
  5. James Miller
    Pages 157-185
  6. James Miller
    Pages 187-215
  7. James Miller
    Pages 217-254
  8. James Miller
    Pages 255-292
  9. James Miller
    Pages 293-301
  10. James Miller
    Pages 303-378
  11. Back Matter
    Pages 379-390

About this book


This textbook introduces the theories and practical procedures used in planetary spacecraft navigation. Written by a former member of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) navigation team, it delves into the mathematics behind modern digital navigation programs, as well as the numerous technological resources used by JPL as a key player in the field. In addition, the text offers an analysis of navigation theory application in recent missions, with the goal of showing students the relationship between navigation theory and the real-world orchestration of mission operations.


jet propulsion laboratory navigation theory planetary space navigation deep space network trajectory design orbit determination space mission optimization spacecraft motion equations comet navigation asteroid navigation mathematics behind digital navigation programs mathematics of space navigation

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.Porter RanchUSA

About the authors

James Miller worked as the assistant Navigation Team Chief on the Viking Mission to Mars in 1976. In 2000, he received the Mechanics and Control of Flight medal from the AIAA for his design of the navigation system for the first orbiting and landing on the asteroid Eros. Further, he designed a trajectory to leave Earth and orbit the Moon with no propulsive maneuvers. This was the first practical solution of the four-body problem, and it has since been used on the missions Hiten, Genesis, and Grail.  

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