Relative orbit determination for unconnected spacecraft within a constellation

Tong Qin, Dong Qiao, Malcolm Macdonald

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Large constellations of spacecraft are set to become increasingly common. Orbit determination (OD) can be a non-trivial task for a large constellation operator, and efficient operations of such constellations is a crucial challenge. This Note aims at addressing one critical issue of large constellations, that is, the relative orbit determination (OD). Relative OD provides basic state information for subsequent spacecraft control and operation. In addition, determining relative orbits can be used to aid certain scientific and operational objectives, such as the gravity recovery in [1] and Earth observation in [2].
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Early online date21 Dec 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Dec 2020


  • orbit determination
  • large constellations
  • gravity recovery


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