Orbital Mechanics and Formation Flying

1st Edition

A Digital Control Perspective

Authors: P A Capó-Lugo P M Bainum
Hardcover ISBN: 9780857090546
eBook ISBN: 9780857093875
Imprint: Woodhead Publishing
Published Date: 4th October 2011
Page Count: 438
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Aimed at students, faculty and professionals in the aerospace field, this book provides practical information on the development, analysis, and control of a single and/or multiple spacecraft in space. This book is divided into two major sections: single and multiple satellite motion. The first section analyses the orbital mechanics, orbital perturbations, and attitude dynamics of a single satellite around the Earth. Using the knowledge of a single satellite motion, the translation of a group of satellites called formation flying or constellation is explained. Formation flying has been one of the main research topics over the last few years and this book explains different control approaches to control the satellite attitude motion and/or to maintain the constellation together. The control schemes are explained in the discrete domain such that it can be easily implemented on the computer on board the satellite. The key objective of this book is to show the reader the practical and the implementation process in the discrete domain.

Key Features

  • Explains the orbital motion and principal perturbations affecting the satellite
  • Uses the Ares V rocket as an example to explain the attitude motion of a space vehicle
  • Presents the practical approach for different control actuators that can be used in a satellite


Students, faculty and professionals in the aerospace field.

Table of Contents


List of figures

List of tables

List of symbols



About the authors

Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Introduction to the book

1.2 Book division

Chapter 2: Two body orbital motion


2.1 Introduction to orbital motion

2.2 Constraints and generalized coordinates

2.3 Lagrange’s equation

2.4 System of particles

2.5 Two body orbital motion problem

2.6 Orbital equations of motion

2.7 Energy and velocity of orbiting bodies

2.8 Escape velocity

2.9 Earth Coordinate Inertial (ECI) system

2.10 Period of an orbit

2.11 Development of Kepler’s equation

2.12 Suggested problems

Chapter 3: Orbital perturbations in the two body motion


3.1 Introduction to disturbance effects

3.2 Lagrange planetary equations

3.3 Perturbation due to the earth oblateness

3.4 The near-Earth atmosphere effects

3.5 Solar radiation pressure force

3.6 Other disturbance effects

3.7 Suggested problems

Chapter 4: Frame rotations and quaternions


4.1 Introduction to rotations and quaternions

4.2 Two-dimensional frame rotations

4.3 Three-dimensional frame rotations

4.4 Example of frame rotations

4.5 Quaternion definition and rotations

4.6 Quaternion to Euler angle relations

4.7 Suggested problems

Chapter 5: Rigid body motion


5.1 Introduction to attitude dynamics

5.2 Rate of change of a vector

5.3 Moment of inertia

5.4 Principal moments of inertia

5.5 Energy formulation

5.6 Rate of change of a quaternion

5.7 Ares V equations of motion

5.8 Suggested problems

Chapter 6: Environmental and actuator torques



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About the Author

P A Capó-Lugo

Dr Pedro A. Capó-Lugo works as an Aerospace Engineer in the guidance, navigation, and control analysis and design group at NASA George C. Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. He has worked in the analysis of control systems of the Ares rockets in the Constellation program, and has analyzed and developed control systems for different satellite missions which include nano and cube satellites. One of his main research interests is formation flying.

Affiliations and Expertise

George C. Marshall Space Flight Center (NASA)

P M Bainum

Dr Peter M. Bainum has 50 years industrial and academic experience. His research in aerospace systems dynamics and control resulted in 220 authored/co-authored publications. His current research interests include: formation flying and dynamics; and control of large flexible space structures. Honours include Fellow AIAA, AAS, AAAS, BIS; Honorary Member Japanese Rocket Society (JRS); IAA Member, and recipient of AIAA International Cooperation, IAF Malina Education, AAS Dirk Brouwer and Sen. Spark Matsunaga International Cooperation Awards. His experience includes participation in the Gemini mission, Apollo program proposal, Department of Defense Gravity Experiment Satellite, Small Astronomy Dual Spin Spacecraft, the Shuttle-Tethered-Subsatellite program, and the NASA proposed Cluster Formation Flying program. Dr. Bainum holds the position of Distinguished Professor of Aerospace Engineering, Emeritus, Howard University, Washington, DC, USA.

Affiliations and Expertise

Howard University, USA