Optimal finite-thrust spacecraft trajectories using collocation and nonlinear programming

Paul J. Enright, Brace A. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A new method is described for the determination of optimal spacecraft trajectories in an inverse-square field using finite, fixed thrust. The method employs a recently developed direct optimization technique that uses a piecewise polynomial representation for the state and controls and collocation, thus converting the optimal control problem into a nonlinear programming problem, which is solved numerically. This technique has been modified to provide efficient handling of those portions of the trajectory that can be determined analytically, i.e., the coast arcs. Among the problems that have been solved using this method are optimal rendezvous and transfer (including multirevolution cases) and optimal multiburn orbit insertion from hyperbolic approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)981-985
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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