Force Models

  • James Miller
Part of the Space Technology Library book series (SPTL, volume 37)


The acceleration of a spacecraft is proportional to the vector sum of all the forces acting on the spacecraft. Each component of the resultant force is computed by individual force models. The required accuracy of force models is dependent on the magnitude of the force and the observability of the force in orbit determination software. By far the most important force model is gravity. Gravity force models are formulated as acceleration but this is only a matter of convenience because the mass of the spacecraft factors out of the equations of motion. Force models are generally independent of motion. Even though solar pressure and rocket thrust involve motion of molecules and photons, the force on the spacecraft does not depend on its motion. A notable exception is atmospheric drag forces that are dependent on the velocity of the spacecraft relative to the atmosphere.


Orbit Determination Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) NEAR Mission Gravity Harmonic Coefficients Pyramid Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • James Miller
    • 1
  1. 1.Porter RanchUSA

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