Beidou satellite maneuver thrust force estimation for precise orbit determination

Jing Qiao, Wu Chen

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Beidou satellites, especially geostationary earth orbit (GEO) and inclined geosynchronous orbit (IGSO) satellites, need to be frequently maneuvered to keep them in position due to various perturbations. The satellite ephemerides are not available during such maneuver periods. Precise estimation of thrust forces acting on satellites would provide continuous ephemerides during maneuver periods and could significantly improve orbit accuracy immediately after the maneuver. This would increase satellite usability for both real-time and post-processing applications. Using 1 year of observations from the Multi-GNSS Experiment network (MGEX), we estimate the precise maneuver periods for all Beidou satellites and the thrust forces. On average, GEO and IGSO satellites in the Beidou constellation are maneuvered 12 and 2 times, respectively, each year. For GEO satellites, the maneuvers are mainly in-plane, while out-of-plane maneuvers are observed for IGSO satellites and a small number of GEO satellites. In most cases, the Beidou satellite maneuver periods last 15–25 min, but can be as much as 2 h for the few out-of-plane maneuvers of GEO satellites. The thrust forces acting on Beidou satellites are normally in the order of 0.1–0.7 mm/s2. This can cause changes in velocity of GEO/IGSO satellites in the order of several decimeters per second. In the extreme cases of GEO out-of-plane maneuvers, very large cross-track velocity changes are observed, namely 28 m/s, induced by 5.4 mm/s2thrust forces. Also, we demonstrate that by applying the estimated thrust forces in orbit integration, the orbit errors can be estimated at decimeter level in along- and cross-track directions during normal maneuver periods, and 1–2 m in all the orbital directions for the enormous GEO out-of-plane maneuver.
Original languageEnglish
Article number42
JournalGPS Solutions
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


  • Beidou
  • Maneuver detection
  • Precise orbit determination
  • Thrust force

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Earth and Planetary Sciences


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