Spacecraft Formation Flying using Lorentz Forces

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M. A. Peck; B. Streetman; C. M. Saaj; V. Lappas (2007), JBIS, 60, 263-267

Refcode: 2007.60.263
Keywords: Lorentz force, Coulomb force, propulsion system, formation flying

The Lorentz Augmented Orbit (LAO) concept is an electromagnetic propulsion system without a tether that uses the interaction between an electrostatically charged spacecraft and the Earth's magnetic field to provide a useful thrust. In Low Earth Orbit (LEO), the Lorentz force acting on a charged spacecraft flying relative to Earth's magnetic field causes acceleration in a direction perpendicular to both its velocity and the magnetic field. In this paper, the concept of spacecraft propulsion using Lorentz force is investigated for LEO formation flying. A triangular spacecraft formation configuration is used to simulate and validate the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed concept. It is illustrated that simple formation manoeuvres can be performed solely using the Lorentz force.

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