Onboard Target Searching Strategy During Lost in Space Situations in Angles-Only Navigation Active Space Debris Removal

  • Yue YouEmail author
  • Hua Wang
Original Paper


During the transition from ground-based to on-board relative navigation, active space debris removal faces the so-called lost in space problem where the target’s orbital parameters are known to a limited degree making its detection and identification among the other visible objects challenging. Being non-cooperative, the target is also assumed to be non-responsive to communication methods. Seven target search strategies are developed and evaluated using Monte-Carlo analysis. It is shown that one of the proposed methods, stepping-sweeping, can insure detection of the target within several minutes with a 99.9% success rate using either a single optical/infra-red camera payload. A sensitivity analysis was conducted on both the camera parameters and the detection success condition and reveals that this target search strategy is robust against initial position uncertainties. It is also applicable to all the common relative trajectories for orbital proximity operations. The developed tool can also be used for sensor parameters as well as search strategy key parameters selection.


Onboard target searching Lost in space Angles-only navigation Linear covariance analysis Active debris removal 



The authors acknowledge financial support from the China Scholarship Council (number 201, 403, 160, 417), Space Engineering Center of École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, and the National Natural Science Foundation of China (number 11572345 and 11222215). The authors would like to thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.


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Copyright information

© The Korean Society for Aeronautical & Space Sciences 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Naval Research AcademyBeijingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.College of Aerospace Science and EngineeringNational University of Defense TechnologyChangshaPeople’s Republic of China

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