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Method and system for establishment and maintenance of a global formation of directionally-fixed spacecraft without the use of expendable mass

Patent image
NRL

A method of establishing a formation of a plurality of directionally fixed satellites, such as primary formation of the satellites with in-track velocity disparity. The plurality of satellites includes an anchor satellite and at least one non-anchor satellite, each satellite of the plurality of satellites including at least one drag flap, each satellite of the plurality of satellites being free of one of a propulsion system and an expendable mass propellant. Control is applied to deploy the at least one drag flap of the at least one non-anchor satellite based on the current spacing and the current separation rate of the each non-anchor satellite, and the predicted final spacing of the plurality of satellites. The final spacing predicting and the drag flap control applying is repeated until the current separation rate has been nulled to within a threshold value.

Inventors: 
Hope, Alan Scott; Lum, Annie Megan
Patent Number: 
Technical domain: 
Handling and Transportation
FIle Date: 
2011-01-20
Grant Date: 
2013-05-07
Grant time: 
838 days
Grant time percentile rank: 
15
Claim count percentile rank: 
2
Citations percentile rank: 
1
'Cited by' percentile rank: 
1
Assignee: 
US NAVY