This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Study of the Ballistic Capabilities of a Tethered Satellite System




Grant, Jennifer

Type of Degree



Aerospace Engineering


This thesis is an investigation into the ballistic capabilities of a Tethered Satellite System (TSS) when the sub-satellite is released from the system. This topic is of particular interest because TSS could be potentially used as threats, or weapons. There is a need to determine the velocity change or angular velocity that is required to cause a sub-satellite to enter an impact trajectory. Once the sub-satellite enters an impact trajectory, the ground range covered by the new trajectory and the time to impact are determined. A simple dumbbell model is used to represent the TSS in a dynamical simulation. Changes to the velocity of the system were introduced at release point in the orbit in order to cause the sub-satellite to enter an impact trajectory toward the Earth after release from the TSS. The parameters of the TSS that affect the impact trajectories are the altitude, tether length, and release point. A comparison is then done for changes in these parameters in order to determine the maximum and minimum ground range and time to impact for the various cases studied. An analytical solution is also developed to determine the maximum and minimum ranges when given a range of changes in velocity and to find the angular velocity and velocity change necessary for a given a set of initial conditions and desired impact trajectories.