The management of the Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS) and of the Medium Earth Orbit (MEO) region as a whole is a subject that cannot be deferred, due to the growing exploitation and launch rate in that orbital regime. The advent of the European Galileo and the Chinese Beidou constellations significantly added complexity to the system and calls for an adequate global view on the four constellations present in operation. The operation procedures, including maintenance and disposal practices, of the constellations currently deployed were analyzed in order to asses a proper reference simulation scenario. The complex dynamics of the MEO region with all the geopotential and lunisolar resonances was studied to better identify the proper end-of-life orbit for every proposed strategy, taking into account and, whenever possible, exploiting the orbital dynamics in this peculiar region of space. The possibility to exploit low thrust propulsion or non gravitational perturbations with passive de-orbiting devices (and a combination of the two) was analyzed, in view of possible applications in the design of the future generations of the constellations satellites. Several upgrades in the long-term evolution software SDM and DAMAGE were undertaken to properly handle the constellation simulations in every aspect from constellation maintenance to orbital dynamics. A thorough approach considering the full time evolving covariance matrix associated with every object was implemented in SDM to compute the collision risk and associated maneuver rate for the constellation satellites. Once the software upgrades will be completed, the effectiveness of the different disposal strategies will be analyzed in terms of residual collision risk and avoidance maneuvers rate. This work was performed under the ESA/GSP Contract no. 4000107201/12/F/MOS.
- Global Navigation Satellite Systems
- Orbital dynamics
- Space debris