Date of Award


Access Type

Dissertation - Open Access

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Aerospace Engineering


Graduate Studies

Committee Chair

Dr. Bogdan Udrea

First Committee Member

Dr. Mark J. Balas

Second Committee Member

Dr. Troy Henderson

Third Committee Member

Dr. William MacKunis

Fourth Committee Member

Dr. Josue D. Munoz

Fifth Committee Member

Dr. Alan T. Lovell


This work leverages existing techniques in angles-only navigation to develop optimal range observability maneuvers and trajectory planning methods for spacecraft under constrained relative motion. The resulting contribution is a guidance method for impulsive rendezvous and proximity operations valid for elliptic orbits of arbitrary eccentricity.

The system dynamics describe the relative motion of an arbitrary number of maneuvering (chaser) spacecraft about a single non-cooperative resident-space-object (RSO). The chaser spacecraft motion is constrained in terms of the 1) collision bounds of the RSO, 2) maximum fuel usage, 3) eclipse avoidance, and 4) optical sensor field of view restrictions. When more than one chaser is present, additional constraints include 1) collision avoidance between formation members, and 2) formation longevity via fuel usage balancing.

Depending on the type of planetary orbit, quasi-circular or elliptic, the relative motion dynamics are approximated using a linear time-invariant or a linear time-varying system, respectively. The proposed method uses two distinct parameterizations corresponding to each system type to reduce the optimization problem from 12 to 2 variables in Cartesian space, thus simplifying an otherwise intractable optimization problem.