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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Large scale nonlinear programming for the optimization of spacecraft trajectories
by Arrieta-Camacho, Juan Jose, Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, 2007, 134; 3258587
Abstract (Summary)

Despite the availability of high fidelity mathematical models, the computation of accurate optimal spacecraft trajectories has never been an easy task. While simplified models of spacecraft motion can provide useful estimates on energy requirements, sizing, and cost; the actual launch window and maneuver scheduling must rely on more accurate representations.

We propose an alternative for the computation of optimal transfers that uses an accurate representation of the spacecraft dynamics. Like other methodologies for trajectory optimization, this alternative is able to consider all major disturbances. In contrast, it can handle explicitly equality and inequality constraints throughout the trajectory; it requires neither the derivation of costate equations nor the identification of the constrained arcs.

The alternative consist of two steps: (1) discretizing the dynamic model using high-order collocation at Radau points, which displays numerical advantages, and (2) solution to the resulting Nonlinear Programming (NLP) problem using an interior point method, which does not suffer from the performance bottleneck associated with identifying the active set, as required by sequential quadratic programming methods; in this way the methodology exploits the availability of sound numerical methods, and next generation NLP solvers.

In practice the methodology is versatile; it can be applied to a variety of aerospace problems like homing, guidance, and aircraft collision avoidance; the methodology is particularly well suited for low-thrust spacecraft trajectory optimization.

Examples are presented which consider the optimization of a low-thrust orbit transfer subject to the main disturbances due to Earth's gravity field together with Lunar and Solar attraction. Other example considers the optimization of a multiple asteroid rendezvous problem. In both cases, the ability of our proposed methodology to consider non-standard objective functions and constraints is illustrated.

Future research directions are identified, involving the automatic scheduling and optimization of trajectory correction maneuvers. The sensitivity information provided by the methodology is expected to be invaluable in such research pursuit.

The collocation scheme and nonlinear programming algorithm presented in this work, complement other existing methodologies by providing reliable and efficient numerical methods able to handle large scale, nonlinear dynamic models.

Indexing (document details)
School: Carnegie Mellon University
School Location: United States -- Pennsylvania
Source: DAI-B 68/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Aerospace materials
Keywords: Spacecraft, Trajectories
Publication Number: 3258587
ISBN: 978-1-109-96428-8
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