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Dr. Ghulam Jaffer <>

Orbital Plane
 In the orbital plane, the position vector R and the
velocity vector V specify the motion of the satellite,
Two-body Motion: Circular Motion
 All of the celestial bodies from a fleck of dust to a supernova are attracted to each other in accordance
with Newton's law of universal gravitation
Fg = GMm/R2 (3-1)
 The gravitational force on the Earth orbiting satellite
 Fg = universal gravitational force between bodies
 M, m = mass of the two bodies
 G = universal gravitational constant (6.67*10-11 Nm2/kg2)
 r = distance between the center of masses of the two bodies
 The centrifugal force on the spacecraft is Fc = mV2/R (3-2)
 V = velocity of the spacecraft
 m = mass of the spacecraft
 r = radius from the spacecraft center of mass to the central body center of mass
 For steady motion both forces must be balanced, therefore
 For circular orbits, Centrifugal force is balanced by Gravitational force, therefore
 V = √(MG/R); MG = µ=398,600 km3/s2 (3-3), So V = √(µ/R) (3-4)
 Period P = 2π√(R3/µ) (3-5)
General Solution (1)
 Kepler's laws of planetary motion are confirmed
and generalized to allow
 orbits of any conic section, not just elliptical orbits. (Two-
body motion is often called Keplerian motion)
 The sum of the potential energy and kinetic energy of
the orbiting body per unit mass is a constant at all
points in the orbit and is V2/2 - µ/R
General Solution (2)
General Solution (3): Specific Energy
 is the total mechanical energy per unit mass or
specific energy of an object in any orbit about a central
 The kinetic energy term is V2/2 and the potential
energy term is –µ/ r.
 Potential energy is considered to be zero at infinity (∞)
and negative at radii less than ∞.
 The total energy of any orbit depends on the semimajor
axis (a) of the orbit only
 For a circular orbit a = r and specific energy is –ve, also
for ellipse. Hence for all closed orbits (not trajectories),
the energy is –ve.
General Solution (4): Relative Energy
of Orbit Types
 For parabolic orbits a = ∞, and specific
energy is zero; as we will see a parabolic orbit
is a boundary condition between hyperbolas
and ellipses
 For hyperbolic orbits. a is negative and
specific energy is positive
 At a given radius velocity and specific
energy increase in the following order:
circular, elliptical. parabolic. hyperbolic; total
spacecraft energy increases in the same
 Additional energy must be added to a
spacecraft to change an orbit from circular to
elliptical. Energy must be removed to change
from an elliptical to a circular orbit
 Both adding and removing energy requires a
force on the vehicle and in general that
means consumption of propellant
General Solution (5): Angular
 Total angular momentum of the orbiting body is a constant equal to the
cross product of the radius and the velocity vectors: H=rxV
 Where
 H is the angular momentum per unit mass (or specific momentum) and is a
vector quantity. From vector mechanics. the magnitude of H can be
determined by H = rVcos y (3-13)
 H = magnitude of the specific momentum
 r = magnitude of the radius vector (the distance from the spacecraft to the
center of mass of the central body)
 V = magnitude of the velocity vector
 y = flight path angle (the angle between the local horizontal and the velocity
General Solutions (6)
General Solutions (7)
 Specific energy and eccentricity are
related (3-14)
 The energy integral (also called the vis-

viva integral) yields the general relation

for the velocity at any point on any conic
orbit) of an orbiting body -------------- (3-15)
 For a circle, a = r and ------------------------ (3-16)
 For an ellipse, a > 0 and --------------- (3-17)
 For a parabola, a = ∞ and ------------------ (3-18)
 For a hyperbola, a < 0 and------------- (3-19)
General Solutions (8)
General Solutions (9):
 Define an orbit and discover its type given
only r. V. and y at a point. The steps required
are as follows:
1. Given r and V. the specific energy can be
calculated from Eq. (3-7).
2. With specific energy. the semimajor axis
(a) can be obtained from Eq. (3-8).
3. Given r, V and y, the magnitude of specific
momentum (h) can be obtained from Eq. (3-
4. With h and a, e can be obtained from Eq.
5. From the characteristics of the e, the orbit
type can be determined (the Table).
 e and a define a conic orbit. Knowing
these two elements and the orbit type, any
other element can be obtained using
relevant relations.
Exercises (1)
 An Earth satellite is in an orbit with a perigee altitude
of 400 km and an eccentricity of 0.6. Find the

 (a) the perigee velocity

 (b) the apogee radius
 (c) the apogee velocity
 (d) the orbit period
 (e) the satellite velocity when its altitude is 3622 km
 (f) the true anomaly at altitude 3622 km
 (g) the path angle at altitude 3622 km
Exercises (2)
 The LANDSAT C Earth resources satellite is in a near-polar, near-circular
orbit with a perigee altitude of 917 km, an eccentricity of 0.00 132 and
an inclination of 89.1 deg.

 What are the apogee altitude, the orbit period and the perigee velocity?
 Solution: 436.3 km, 1.726 h, 7.397 km/s.

 Two radar fixes on an unidentified Earth orbiter yield the following
 Altitude = 1545 km at a true anomaly of 126 deg

 Altitude = 852 km at a true anomaly of 58 deg

 What are the eccentricity, altitude of perigee and semi major axis of the
spacecraft orbit?
Exercises (3)
 The Magellan spacecraft was placed in an elliptical
orbit around Venus with a periapsis altitude of 250
km and a period of 3.1 h. What is the apoapsis
 Solution: h = 7810 km.

 Consider an elliptical Earth orbit with a semi major
axis of 12.500 km and an eccentricity of 0.472.

 What is the time from periapsis passage to a position

with a true anomaly of 198 deg?
Elliptical Orbit Parameter Relationships