The Clohessy-Wiltshire equations describe a simplified model of orbital relative motion, in which the target is in a circular orbit, and the chaser spacecraft is in an elliptical or circular orbit. This model gives a first-order approximation of the chaser's motion in a target-centered coordinate system. It is very useful in planning rendezvous of the chaser with the target.
For intuition, in low earth orbit, and , so .
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