During their stay in space, Satellites and spacecrafts have to be maneuvered for various purposes. These are carried out by altering their instantaneous velocity at which they are moving. There are several types of maneuvers and several ways of executing them. These depend on the objectives of the maneuvers and the types of thrusting systems available in the satellite. The thrusting systems, also known as propulsion systems range from chemical based rocket engines like mono-propellant systems, bi-propellant systems etc to electric propulsion to ion propulsion to solar sails and many others. Each one these present unique characteristics which can be used to execute orbit maneuvers.
Also the different types of maneuvers include orbit raising maneuvers, orbit reduction maneuvers, orbit transfer maneuvers, approach and departure maneuvers, station-keeping maneuvers, track maintenance maneuvers, solar illumination maintenance maneuvers among many others. Accordingly there are varied methodologies and processes for designing orbital maneuvers. However, the outcomes of almost all the design techniques include the indication of the time and duration of the maneuver and the orientation of the vehicle during the maneuver. There could also be additional requirements in timing the maneuvers to have tighter control over the execution.
The essence of a maneuvering operation is that a predetermined force or thrust is applied to the vehicle in a specific direction, so that it gets accelerated or decelerated in accordance with the law of physics, thereby imparting the velocity-change in the required direction. In addition, the overall design and execution of a maneuver involves development and implementation of robust onboard navigation and control algorithms. It also includes the development of onboard algorithm for diligent execution of meticulously choreographed sequence of steps at precise timings. The tiniest of errors could potentially turn into catastrophes.
The flight dynamics team at SpaceTech Orbital has exceptional experience in planning, design, execution and performance evaluation of several types of maneuvers ranging from simple track-maintenance maneuvers to those required for interplanetary travel. They are also well-versed in laying out the specifications and configuration of the propulsion system that would be required on a spacecraft depending on the mission profile and application.