Formation flight control for modeling interferometric aperture planes

Jeffrey R. O'Malley, David B. Spencer

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


Current restrictions on monolithic telescope aperture size have made it necessary for distributed systems of satellites to increase resolution of distant objects utilizing infrared interferometry. Based on linearized relative equations of motion near the L2 libration point of the Circular Restricted Three-Body Problem (CR3BP), a state feedback control method is developed to track a reference position to maintain several craft in a planar formation relative to a hub craft. The hub's motion using linearized equation relative to the libration point is found and used for determining the pointing error due to the hub motion. Wide ranges of pointing angles for the aperture configuration are simulated that are useful in estimating station keeping fuel consumption and attainable targeting for interferometric observations. A halo orbit was produced using linearized analytical equations that served as a reference orbit for the formation. A geometrical relation was developed that gave an estimate of the maximum pointing error accumulated by the formation's movement along the reference orbit The relative positions of the satellites composing the aperture plane stabilize to the appropriate reference position in a few seconds and remain fixed for the observation period of 5-10 days. Control acceleration levels varied according to the distance from the hub craft, with the effort increasing with the distance from the hub craft. The range of the control efforts (ΔV's) to keep the formation fixed for an observation period ranged from approximately 1 m/s to 4.5 m/s for each satellite. This type of analysis is useful for mission planning because it enables the propellant cost estimates over a range of pointing directions to the astronomical objects that are to be observed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCollection of Technical Papers - AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2006
Number of pages23
StatePublished - Dec 1 2006
EventAIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2006 - Keystone, CO, United States
Duration: Aug 21 2006Aug 24 2006

Publication series

NameCollection of Technical Papers - AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2006


OtherAIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2006
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityKeystone, CO

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Engineering(all)


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