Space Flight Dynamics and Satellite Constellations


Present an overview of the fundamentals of space flight dynamics.

Mathematical principles will be explored for apprehending the physics of orbital motion, but they will be associated with descriptions of real implementations of space systems according to various mission requirements. The trainees will acquire a basic knowledge of the models that describe trajectories and attitudes of space vehicles. They will also learn how to assess space related performances of a satellite based system.

After completing this course you will be able to:

  • understand the dynamics of the orbital motion,

  • understand the complexity of the choice of a good time and reference system,

  • select an orbit according to the main mission requirements,

  • compute orbital manoeuvres for simple orbital transfers,

  • select a satellite constellation or a formation flying system according to the mission performance requirements,

  • understand the basic principles of space navigation systems.


Engineers and executives.


1. Fundamentals of Space Flight Dynamics :
  • Kepler and Newton laws.

  • 2-body and 3-body problems.

  • Orbital elements.

  • Time and terrestrial reference systems.

2. Orbital Perturbations :
  • Modelling of the gravitational field.

  • Detailed effect of the main zonal term (J2).

  • Sun and Moon and planets gravitational perturbations effects (illustrations with GPS orbits).

  • Sun radiations.

  • Solar pressure.

3. Orbital Manoeuvres :
  • Impulsive manoeuvres.

  • Modification of the orbital elements.

  • Hohmann orbital transfer.

  • Low-thrust manoeuvres.

  • Rendezvous.

  • Station keeping.

  • Deorbitation.

4. Orbit Design :
  • Main types of Earth orbits and basic properties.

  • Earth-phased orbits.

  • Geosynchronous orbits.

  • Sunsynchronous orbits.

  • Grounds tracks.

5. Satellite Constellations :
  • Constellation design.

  • Visibility coverage.

  • DOP coverage.

  • Launch and deployment of satellite constellations.

  • Station positioning strategies.

  • Satellite renewal strategies.

  • Examples of satellite constellations.

6. Formation Flying Missions :
  • Design of a formation flying system.

  • Station keeping strategies.

  • Examples of formation flying missions.

7. Introduction to Satellite Navigation Systems :
  • Previous navigation systems (TRANSIT, LORAN C).

  • Presentation of GPS, GLONASS and GALILEO.

  • Principles of satellite positioning systems.

  • Geometric dilution of precision (GDOP, PDOP, HDOP, VDOP, TDOP).

  • User equivalent range error (UERE).

For information only : 26 hours