Drag coefficient estimation using satellite attitude and orbit data

Christopher L. Hassa, David B. Spencer, Sven G. Bilén

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


Current spacecraft decay models assume a constant value of 2.2 for the coefficient of drag. This assumption is driven by the difficulty in accurately modeling the spacecraft's cross-sectional area exposed to the direction of motion. This research discards the assumption of a constant coefficient of drag; instead, it uses attitude data from the Swift spacecraft to determine the cross-sectional area and directly calculates the coefficient of drag over the nine years of orbital data. This method partially validates the NRLMSISE-00 atmospheric model and encourages a new examination of the coefficient of drag value used to determine the decay of spacecraft orbits.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances In The Astronautical Sciences
EditorsDonald L. Mackison, Ossama Abdelkhalik, Roby S. Wilson, Renato Zanetti
PublisherUnivelt Inc.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780877036111
StatePublished - 2014
Event24th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, 2014 - Mexico, United States
Duration: Jan 26 2014Jan 30 2014

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Other24th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting, 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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