This paper presents fuel optimal and balancing methodologies for reconfiguring multiple spacecraft in formation subject to a Newtonian gravity field. For a kind of continuous-thrust propulsion system, a fuel-optimal control problem is formulated to minimize the integral squared control subject to the linearized Hill or Clohessy-Wiltshire dynamics of relative motion with respect to a circular reference orbit. Palmer's analytical solution for general reconfiguration is adapted to maneuvers between projected circular orbits, resulting in the optimal fuel consumption index as a function of configuration parameters such as orbit radius, phase angle, and transfer time. Parametric analyses reveal unique characteristics of individual fuel optimality and gross fuel consumption: for an arbitrary selection of initial/terminal orbit radii, (i) there exist special transfer times such that individual fuel consumption is optimally uniform for all phase angles, and (ii) the total fuel expenditure for a group of three or more spacecraft is invariant for the relatively same configuration with respect to the departure phase. These results serve to effectively design fuel balancing strategies for formation reconfiguration of multiple spacecraft.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Aerospace Engineering
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Atmospheric Science
- Space and Planetary Science
- Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)