Non-linear solution to the maximum height orbit transfer guidance problem

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An optimal control solution to the highly non-linear problem of orbit transfer mission is achieved by using a newly proposed analytical perturbation technique. The problem is classified as a two-point boundary value problem in order to optimize a performance measure in a given time. Assuming a constant thrust operating in a given length of time, it is sought to find the thrust direction history of a transfer from a given initial orbit to the largest possible orbit. The system dynamical model is stated by regarding a variable mass spacecraft moving in the variable gravitational field of the Earth, based on the two-body problem. To assess the perturbation solution fidelity, a numerical solution based on the Gauss pseudospectral method has been employed. The main novelty of this work is in applying a new analytical solution strategy that is a combination of perturbation technique and backward integration to a highly non-linear problem in the calculus of variations approach. © Authors 2011.

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Proceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers, Part G: Journal of Aerospace Engineering