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Satellite Technology: Principles and Applications, 3rd Edition by Anil Maini, Varsha Agrawal

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2Satellite Orbits and Trajectories

The study of orbits and trajectories of satellites and satellite launch vehicles is the most fundamental topic of the subject of satellite technology and perhaps also the most important one. It is important because it gives an insight into the operational aspects of this wonderful piece of technology. An understanding of the orbital dynamics would give a sound footing to address issues like types of orbit and their suitability for a given application, orbit stabilization, orbit correction and station keeping, launch requirements and typical launch trajectories for various orbits, Earth coverage and so on. This chapter and the one after this focus on all these issues and illustrate various concepts with the help of necessary mathematics and a large number of solved problems.

2.1 Definition of an Orbit and a Trajectory

While a trajectory is a path traced by a moving body, an orbit is a trajectory that is periodically repeated. While the path followed by the motion of an artificial satellite around Earth is an orbit, the path followed by a launch vehicle is called the launch trajectory. The motion of different planets of the solar system around the sun and the motion of artificial satellites around Earth (Figure 2.1) are examples of orbital motion.

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Figure 2.1 Example of orbital motion – satellites revolving around Earth

The term ‘trajectory’, ...

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