Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Electrical and Computer Engineering

First Advisor

James L. Garrison

Second Advisor

Mark R. Bell

Committee Chair

James L. Garrison

Committee Co-Chair

Mark R. Bell

Committee Member 1

James V. Krogmeier

Committee Member 2

Luke M. Winternitz


Automated rendezvous and docking (AR&D;) operations are important for many future space missions, such as the resupply of space stations, repair and refueling of large satellites, and active removal of orbital debris. These operations depend critically on accurate, real-time knowledge of the relative position and velocity between two space vehicles. Unfortunately, Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) capabilities remain severely limited in close proximity to large space structures due to significant multipath effects and signal blockage. Although GNSS is used for the initial stages of approach, other instruments such as laser, radar and vision-based systems, are required to augment GNSS during AR&D; over the last few hundred meters.

This dissertation evaluates the feasibility of GNSS multipath-based relative space navigation. Methods for separating and interpreting reflected signals are demonstrated using GNSS data collected during Hubble Servicing Mission 4 (HSM4), a model of the mission geometry, electromagnetic (EM) ray tracing, and a custom GNSS software receiver. EM ray tracing is used to show that a number of signals sufficient for ranging are reflected by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) during HSM4, and the properties of these reflections are used to generate simulated GNSS data. The impact of reflected signals on code correlation shape, code tracking error, and pseudorange measurement is demonstrated using the simulated and experimental data.

Relative navigation is demonstrated using simulated reflected signal measurements and the dependence of relative navigation on the reflecting object’s scattering properties is illustrated. From the tracking of data from two oppositely polarized antennas, both simulated and experimental, it is determined that multipath measurements are limited by system properties such as antenna polarization quality and front end bandwidth. Design considerations involved in optimizing a receiver to measure reflected signals are discussed.