Single station Doppler tracking for satellite orbit prediction and propagation
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Presently, there are two main methods of launching a cube satellite into Earth orbit. The first method is to purchase a secondary payload slot on a major launch vehicle. For the second method, the satellite must first be transported via a major launch vehicle to the International Space Station. From there, the satellite is loaded into one of two deployment mechanisms, and deployed at a specified time. In each case, the satellite's initial orbit is not accurately known. For ground operators this poses a problem of position uncertainty. In order to solve this problem, a satellite tracking algorithm was developed to use an initial two-line element set for coarse orbit prediction, followed by Doppler measurements for continuous processing and updating. The system was tested using simulated data. The analysis showed that this low-cost, scalable system will satisfy the tracking requirements of many cube satellite missions, including current missions at the University of Texas.