Applied Orbit Perturbation and Maintenance

Chia-Chun “George” Chao
ISBN 1-884989-17-9
264 pp., illus.

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Since the start of the space age more than 50 years ago, various space technology applications—including communication, navigation, and remote sensing—have advanced significantly. To meet the challenges in each application category, scientists have identified special orbit types such as geostationary, semisynchronous, Molniya, sun-synchronous, and frozen. Applied Orbit Perturbation and Maintenance was written by Dr. Chia-Chun “George” Chao to summarize the perturbation theories and control (stationkeeping) algorithms needed for understanding the dynamics, stability, and maintenance of those orbits.

The book begins with a review of two-body mechanics and the two fundamental methods of solving the equations of motion with perturbations: special and general perturbations. The commonly used integration algorithms are explained and compared. Readers are supplied with a useful reference for designing original numerical integration tools and understanding existing ones.

The book’s major contribution may be the analytical representation of the averaged equations of variation of the four types of perturbation sources in terms of classical orbit elements. Dr. Chao makes use of the computerized expansion of the Poisson series to express the singly averaged third-body perturbation equations in closed form in eccentricity. His approximation of the third-body motion with circular orbit significantly compresses the computer-generated solution without losing the needed accuracy.

Dr. Chao, a retired Senior Engineering Specialist from The Aerospace Corporation, has more than 35 years’ experience in astrodynamics, covering mission design and analysis, orbit perturbations, and stationkeeping and formationkeeping strategies for orbit determination and navigation of interplanetary missions. He was principal investigator and coinvestigator on several Aerospace and NASA-sponsored research projects. He is an AIAA Associate Fellow and a recipient of several achievement awards and a U.S. patent on the formationkeeping of the sparse array antenna.

Read the first chapter