Evolutionary principles applied to mission planning problems

Bruce A. Conway, Christian M. Chilan, Bradley J. Wall

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The space mission planning process is considered as a hybrid optimal control problem. Hybrid optimal control problems are problems that include categorical variables in the problem formulation. For example, an interplanetary trajectory may consist of a sequence of low thrust arcs, impulses and planetary flybys. However, for each choice of the structure of the mission, for example, for a particular choice of the number of planetary flybys to be used, there is a corresponding optimal trajectory. It is not a priori clear which structure will yield the most efficient mission. In this work we present a mathematical framework for describing such problems and solution methods for the hybrid optimal control problem based on evolutionary principles that have the potential for being a robust solver of such problems. As an example, the methods are used to find the optimal choice of three asteroids to visit in sequence, out of a set of eight candidate asteroids, in order to minimize the fuel required.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-86
Number of pages14
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2007


  • Evolutionary methods
  • Genetic algorithms
  • Mission planning
  • Trajectory optimization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Applied Mathematics


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