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Automatic planning and scheduling of active removal of non-operational satellites in low earth orbit

Martin, Juan Manuel Romero and Di-Carlo, Marilena and Vasile, Massimiliano (2015) Automatic planning and scheduling of active removal of non-operational satellites in low earth orbit. In: 66th International Astronautical Congress 2015, IAC 2015. International Astronautical Federation (IAF), pp. 5334-5348. ISBN 9781510818934

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    In this paper two novel strategies to automatically design an optimized mission to de-orbit up to 10 non-cooperative objects per year are proposed, targeting the region within 800 and 1400 km altitude in LEO. The underlying idea is to use a single servicing spacecraft to de-orbit several objects applying two different approaches.The first strategy is analogous to the Traveling Salesman Problem: The servicing spacecraft rendezvous with multiple objects in order to physically attach a de-orbiting kit that performs the re-entry. The second strategy is analogous to the Vehicle Routing Problem: The servicing spacecraft rendezvous with an object, spiral it down to a lower altitude orbit, and spiral up to the next target. In order to maximize the number of de-orbited non-operative objects with minimum propellant consumption, an optimal sequence of targets is identified using a bio-inspired incremental automatic planning and scheduling discrete optimization algorithm. The incremental planning and scheduling algorithm uses a model based on optimal low-Thrust transfer between objects. The optimization of the transfers is realized using a direct method and an analytical propagator based on a first-order solution of the perturbed Keplerian motion. The analytical model takes into account the perturbations deriving from the J2 gravitational effect and the atmospheric drag.