Date of Award

Winter 2010

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace Engineering

Committee Director

Brett A. Newman

Committee Member

Robert L. Ash

Committee Member

John Adam


The purpose of this dissertation is to demonstrate use requirements for a satellite observation mission can be used to determine a constrained optimal orbit based on observation site requirements, observation condition restraints, and sensor characteristics. The typical Earth observation satellite is first designed according to an appropriate orbit; then the observation requirements are used to develop a target schedule. The new design process outlines the development of the appropriate orbit by incorporating user requirements at the forefront of mission planning, not after an orbit has been selected. This research shows how to map the user requirements into constraints for the cost function and optimization process. A global case study with variations demonstrates the effectiveness of the design process. Additionally, a case study is performed for a regional or clustered set of targets. Finally, a lifecycle analysis tests the orbit in a full perturbation environment to evaluate the changes in the ideal orbital elements over time without orbit maintenance or corrections.