Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


David K. Geller


Optimal trajectory planning methods that implement convex optimization techniques are applied to the area of satellite rendezvous and proximity operations. This involves the development of linearized relative orbital motion dynamics and constraints for two satellites, where one maintains a near-circular reference orbit. The result is formulated as a convex optimization problem, where the objective is to minimize the amount of fuel required to transfer from a given initial condition to the desired final conditions. A traditional rendezvous and proximity operations scenario is analyzed, which includes examples of initial approach, inspection, final approach, and docking trajectories. This scenario may include trajectory constraints such as maximum allowable control acceleration levels, approach corridors, and spherical keep-out zones. A second scenario that ensures passive safety, in the event of control failures on the maneuvering satellite. The convex optimization problem is ultimately formulated as a second-order cone program. Algorithm CPU and memory requirements are analyzed. Several examples of resulting optimal trajectories are presented for both scenarios, and these trajectories are implemented in a nonlinear simulation.