Particle swarm optimization of multiple-burn rendezvous trajectories

Mauro Pontani, Pradipto Ghosh, Bruce A. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The particle swarm algorithm is a population-based heuristic method successfully applied in several fields of research, only recently to aerospace trajectories. It represents a very intuitive methodology for optimization, inspired by the behavior of bird flocks while searching for food. In this work, the method is applied to (impulsive and finitethrust) multiple-burn rendezvous trajectories. First, the technique is employed to determine the globally optimal four-impulse rendezvous trajectories for two challenging test cases. Second, the same problems are solved under the assumption of using finite thrust. In this context, the control function is assumed to be a linear combination of B-splines. The method at hand is relatively straightforward to implement and does not require an initial guess, unlike gradient-based solvers. Despite its simplicity and intuitiveness, the particle swarm methodology proves to be quite effective in finding the optimal solution to orbital rendezvous optimization problems with considerable numerical accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1192-1207
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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