Keeping Satellite Formations under Control

 Abstract

We shall discuss the role of formation flying and some of the issues related with keeping groups of satellites in tight formation. The talk will focus upon dynamical modelling and how to optimise manoeuvres for fuel and or time when requiring to reconfigure the satellite formation. Standard optimal control theory is not well suited to the problem and we shall demonstrate how to approach the optimisation for generic formation configurations. At the end we shall demonstrate the application to synthesising an aperture by a ring of satellites around an arbitrary non-nadir direction. By manoeuvring the orbits of each satellite we then reconstruct a new ring which points around a second arbitrary direction.