Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Nonlinear Methods for Spacecraft Guidance and Trajectory Optimization Public Deposited

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  • Many future spacecraft missions are planned to operate far from Earth in highly nonlinear environments, while performing complex navigational maneuvers. This increased complexity in spacecraft trajectories will necessitate the development of new guidance, maneuver design, and trajectory planning algorithms that are suitable for these intricate mission designs. In particular, there is a need for new methods that strike a balance between computationally expensive, full-fidelity trajectory optimization algorithms, and simplified, linearized guidance methods. This dissertation seeks to bridge this gap by developing computationally efficient, accurate, and flexible algorithms using state transition tensors (STTs) to model the nonlinear spacecraft dynamics. First, a higher-order impulsive spacecraft guidance scheme with both a fixed and variable time-of-flight is developed using the STTs of a reference trajectory. Next, these methods are extended to consider continuous-thrust trajectory optimization by combining STTs with differential dynamic programming, a second-order optimization method. STTs are also shown to be useful for accounting for the effects of state uncertainty propagated through nonlinear dynamics, with application to impulsive statistical maneuver design. Building on this, a method is developed to accurately and efficiently model probabilistic constraints on non-Gaussian state distributions, which are frequently encountered in spacecraft dynamics. Finally, a strategy to approximate the higher-order STTs without losing important information is introduced, which improves the efficiency of the underlying algorithms. The STT-based methods are applied to a variety of complex trajectory scenarios, with a particular emphasis on spacecraft operating in cislunar space. These algorithms are shown to be computationally efficient while accurately capturing the effects of nonlinear dynamics. Altogether, this research provides the mathematical and computational tools to use higher-order STTs to achieve a variety of different objectives in spacecraft guidance and trajectory optimization.

Date Issued
  • 2022-11-17
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  • 2024-01-18
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