A guidance approach to satellite formation reconfiguration based on convex optimization and genetic algorithms

S. Sarno*, J. Guo, M. D'Errico, E. Gill

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents a new approach for autonomous reconfiguration of distributed space systems, which ensures safe guidance of spacecraft formations towards the desired patterns while optimizing the total propellant consumption. The orbital transfer is reduced to the form of a convex optimization problem to guarantee rapid computation of control laws. Hence, tasks are iteratively assigned to the component platforms to detect the best reconfiguration strategy. The path-planning is entrusted to a reference satellite of the cluster, that coordinates the remaining ones by means of a procedure based on genetic algorithms. Two methods are proposed, depending on the organizational architecture of the spacecraft formation. In the first one, the maneuver is completely planned by the reference satellite, that determines final tasks and control actions for the whole cluster. As an alternative to such a fully-centralized approach, a distributed version of the algorithm is proposed: tasks are sorted by the reference satellite and transfer orbits are computed by exploiting the computational resources of the whole cluster. Whatever the considered framework, both the planners ensure a safe transition of the formation towards the target geometry. Simulation results show that, when relative distances are of the order of hundreds of meters, a mean delta-v per satellite of the order of 0.1 m/s is required to reconfigure LEO clusters within one orbital period.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2003-2017
Number of pages15
JournalAdvances in Space Research
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 15 Apr 2020


  • Autonomous reconfiguration
  • Convex optimization
  • Genetic algorithm
  • Spacecraft formation flying


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