In nominal mission scenarios, geostationary satellites perform end-of-life orbit maneuvers to reach suitable disposal orbits, where they do not interfere with operational satellites. This research investigates the long-term orbit evolution of decommissioned geostationary satellite under the assumption that the disposal maneuver does not occur and the orbit evolves with no control. The dynamical model accounts for all the relevant harmonics of the terrestrial gravity field at the typical altitude of geostationary orbits, as well as solar radiation pressure and third-body perturbations caused by the Moon and the Sun. Orbit propagations are performed using two algorithms based on different equations of motion and numerical integration methods: (i) Gauss planetary equations for modified equinoctial elements with a Runge-Kutta numerical integration scheme based on 8-7th-order Dorman and Prince formulas; (ii) Cartesian state equations of motion in an Earth-fixed frame with a Runge-Kutta Fehlberg 7/8 integration scheme. The numerical results exhibit excellent agreement over integration times of decades. Some well-known phenomena emerge, such as the longitudinal drift due to the resonance between the orbital motion and Earth’s rotation, attributable to the

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Published on 01/01/2020

DOI: 10.1016/j.actaastro.2020.12.017

Licence: CC BY-NC-SA license

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