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The analysis and detection of orbit maneuvers for the BeiDou satellites based on orbital elements


The service areas of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System (BDS) are China, the Asia–Pacific, and the world via three stages of development. The BDS constellation is designed to maintain a geostationary Earth orbit (GEO), inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO), and medium Earth orbit (MEO). These orbital maneuvers yield certain difficulties for data processing, especially for the BeiDou satellites, such as a decrease in the real-time service performance, which causes a missing precise orbit product from the maneuvered satellites. The frequencies of the orbital maneuvers for the GEO and IGSO satellites are higher than those for the MEO satellites. The maneuvering time and strategy cannot be obtained by common users due to secrecy, which can yield a decline in the service performance of the BDS. Thus, in this study, we analyzed the variation in the orbital semimajor axis for the satellites. The long-term variation in the orbital semimajor axis changes linearly. The short-term variation in the orbital semimajor axis also has periodicity, which can be described by the sum of sine functions. According to the long-term variation in the orbital semimajor axis for the satellites, we propose a detection method for in-plane orbital maneuvering of the GEO, IGSO, and MEO satellites. We then propose a detection method for out-of-plane maneuvering of the GEO satellites. BDS and Global Positioning System (GPS) data from the broadcast ephemeris were analyzed to verify the proposed methods. The experimental results from 2013 to 2019 show that the frequency of orbital maneuvering is approximately once a month for the GEO satellites, once every six months for the IGSO satellites, and once every 1.4 years for the MEO satellites.

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The authors would like to thank MGEX, iGMAS and IGS data center of Wuhan University for the data support. The data from broadcast ephemeris is based on data services provided by MGEX, iGMAS and IGS data center of Wuhan University.


This work was supported by a Chinese Scholarship Council studentship (ref. 202006560033), Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities, CHD (300102260707), the programs of the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41774025, 41731066), and the Grand Projects of the Beidou-2 System (GFZX0301040308). The authors would like to thank the MGEX, iGMAS, and IGS data center at Wuhan University for data support.

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Z.Q. and G.H. provided the initial idea for this study; Z.Q., L.W., S.X., and H.S. conceived and designed the experiments; G.H., Q.Z., Z.Q., W.L., and X.W. analyzed the experimental results; Z.Q., G.H., H.S., and X.W. wrote the paper.

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Correspondence to Guanwen Huang.

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Qin, Z., Huang, G., Zhang, Q. et al. The analysis and detection of orbit maneuvers for the BeiDou satellites based on orbital elements. Acta Geod Geophys 56, 501–522 (2021).

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  • BeiDou satellites
  • Orbital maneuvers
  • Analysis
  • Detection