Date of Award

Summer 2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

Brett Newman

Committee Member

Colin P. Britcher


In this thesis, mitigation of space debris is addressed by examining an approach for repair or de-orbit of a specific population of non-functional Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites. Basic orbital mechanics propagation of the orbits was used as the process for computing a solution to the time and intercept position for the targeted satellites. Optimal orbital maneuvers to reach the target satellites from a pre-established orbit were also considered. In this way minimum ΔV budget, rendezvous time and mass budgets were managed. The Clohessy-Wiltshire Equations and two-impulsive rendezvous maneuvers were used to determine the orbital path of a chase satellite between two position vectors, along with the time of flight. A monopropellant propulsion system was assumed in order to estimate propellant mass requirements. This methodology can be applied to a variety of satellite constellations, as implemented using MatLab and Analytical Graphics, Inc. STK software. Several cases were investigated in the study. Simulations showed that the methodology can provide guidance for the rendezvous process, facilitating a minimum ΔV budget and minimum rendezvous time.