#### Session

Technical Session VIII: Frank J. Redd Student Scholarship Competition

#### Abstract

This paper focuses on the use of aerodynamic forces for CubeSat orbit control. This would enable fleets of CubeSats to fly in formation without the need for thrusters. To gain a better understanding of the behavior of satellites in orbit, a mathematical analysis of satellites in circular orbits with different altitudes was conducted first. This analysis shows that very small altitude differences could result in comparatively large changes in satellite separation over a reasonable time interval. A numerical-integrator based software simulation was developed to provide a more accurate orbit model and a control algorithm for changing satellite separation. Simulation results indicate that aerodynamic forces in low earth orbit would be strong enough for orbit control, but weak enough that any orbital maneuver would take days to weeks to complete (simulations at 600km altitude). This would allow satellite operators to determine satellite positions using NORAD data and Doppler shift measurements and control satellite configurations as needed from the ground.

*Presentation Slides*

Using Differential Aerodynamic Forces for CubeSat Orbit Control

This paper focuses on the use of aerodynamic forces for CubeSat orbit control. This would enable fleets of CubeSats to fly in formation without the need for thrusters. To gain a better understanding of the behavior of satellites in orbit, a mathematical analysis of satellites in circular orbits with different altitudes was conducted first. This analysis shows that very small altitude differences could result in comparatively large changes in satellite separation over a reasonable time interval. A numerical-integrator based software simulation was developed to provide a more accurate orbit model and a control algorithm for changing satellite separation. Simulation results indicate that aerodynamic forces in low earth orbit would be strong enough for orbit control, but weak enough that any orbital maneuver would take days to weeks to complete (simulations at 600km altitude). This would allow satellite operators to determine satellite positions using NORAD data and Doppler shift measurements and control satellite configurations as needed from the ground.