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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2015, Article ID 740253, 16 pages
Research Article

Dynamics of the Space Tug System with a Short Tether

1Shenyang Aerospace University, Shenyang 110136, China
2Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150001, China

Received 25 February 2015; Revised 12 June 2015; Accepted 2 July 2015

Academic Editor: Paul Williams

Copyright © 2015 Jiafu Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The dynamics of the space tug system with a short tether similar to the ROGER system during deorbiting is presented. The kinematical characteristic of this system is significantly different from the traditional tethered system as the tether is tensional and tensionless alternately during the deorbiting process. The dynamics obtained based on the methods for the traditional tethered system is not suitable for the space tug system. Therefore, a novel method for deriving dynamics for the deorbiting system similar to the ROGER system is proposed by adopting the orbital coordinates of the two spacecraft and the Euler angles of ROGER spacecraft as the generalized coordinates instead of in- and out-plane librations and the length of the tether and so forth. Then, the librations of the system are equivalently obtained using the orbital positions of the two spacecraft. At last, the geostationary orbit (GEO) and the orbit whose apogee is 300 km above GEO are chosen as the initial and target orbits, respectively, to perform the numerical simulations. The simulation results indicate that the dynamics can describe the characteristic of the tether-net system conveniently and accurately, and the deorbiting results are deeply affected by the initial conditions and parameters.