Optimal cooperative time-fixed impulsive rendezvous

Koorosh Mirfakhraie, Bruce A. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


New capabilities have been added to a method that had been developed for determining optimal, i.e., minimum fuel, trajectories for the fixed-time cooperative rendezvous of two spacecraft. The method utilizes the primer vector theory. The new capabilities enable the method to accommodate cases in which there are fuel constraints on the spacecraft and/or enable the addition of a midcourse impulse to one of the vehicles’ trajectories. New criteria for the addition of a midcourse impulse, analogous to the Lion and Handelsman criteria but specific to this case in which the vehicles must rendezvous at the final time, are derived. Results are presented for a large number of cases and the effect of varying parameters such as vehicle fuel constraints, vehicle initial masses, and time allowed for the rendezvous is demonstrated. Based on these results, it appears that a cooperative type of rendezvous is especially advantageous when the time allowed for rendezvous is relatively short. This may have applications in such time-critical missions as space rescue.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)607-613
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Applied Mathematics


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