Control of colocated geostationary satellites
Control of the inter-satellite distances within a cluster of colocated satellites located in the same GEO window is examined with regards to the close approaches between pairs of satellites. Firstly, the orbital evolution and station keeping control of a single GEO satellite is examined and a new IBM PC based software program capable of performing both these functions autonomously from initial values of the orbital position and date is detailed and validated. Cluster design ideas are then examined in detail and the propagation software is used to generate data for a cluster of four satellites. Two test cases are examined to quantify the frequency of close approaches between individual satellite pairs, each test case using a different orbital element separation strategy but the same station keeping control scheme. The results of the study are then compared with previous research and discussions are presented on the advantages of each method. Finally, a cluster geometry correction manoeuvre, based on Hill's equations of relative motion, is presented which requires only those thrusters used by typical station keeping. This manoeuvre is integrated into the computer software and the two test cases noted previously are again propagated and the close approach results analysed to demonstrate the reduction in the number of close approaches below 5 km.