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Low-Thrust Many-Revolution Trajectory Optimization

Completed Technology Project

Project Introduction

Low-Thrust Many-Revolution Trajectory Optimization
This proposed research aims to solve the low-thrust many-revolution optimization problem. Optimal low-thrust spaceflight trajectories over hundreds of orbital revolutions offer increased mission life, heavier payloads, and cheaper costs. A solution to this optimization problem will improve such missions as interplanetary transfers and moon tours, and make new mission concepts possible. These new missions include asteroid rendezvous, satellite servicing, and active space debris removal. Modern low-thrust tools lack the fidelity to optimize trajectories that span hundreds of orbital revolutions. The central outcome of this research is a high-fidelity optimization technique for any multiobjective function, be it minimum fuel and maximum payload or any other combination of parameters. A tiered approach will be explored, that encompasses discretization, shape optimization, and optimal control. Outcomes outlined in Technology Area 5.4, Position, Navigation, and Timing, and Technology Area 02, In-Space Propulsion Technologies directly benefit from this research. This is inherently a navigation problem, and its solution will combine with low-thrust technology breakthroughs to achieve decreased transit times, increased payload mass, and reduced costs. This research will enable missions to new science and exploration targets. More »

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