In this brief we present a new approach to fine relative position control in satellite formation flying. We focus on a situation involving two spacecraft, one of which (the “chaser”) is actively controlling its position with respect to the other (the “target”). The goal of the approach is to use the minimum number of thruster firings in order to keep the chaser following its reference position within a certain tolerance. We first present a method based on the matching pursuit (MP) algorithm, which proves to provide a solution to this problem in the open-loop case. Moreover, we show that a closed-loop version of the controller can be obtained as well by turning the method into a model predictive control (MPC) strategy, thanks to the fact that the computational cost of the method is small. An example of application is shown at the end for a mission scenario inspired by the PROBA3 mission, which is currently under development.

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