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Optimal low-thrust trajectories to asteroids through an algorithm based on differential dynamic programming

Colombo, Camilla and Vasile, Massimiliano and Radice, Gianmarco (2009) Optimal low-thrust trajectories to asteroids through an algorithm based on differential dynamic programming. Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy, 105 (1-3). pp. 75-112. ISSN 0923-2958

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In this paper an optimisation algorithm based on Differential Dynamic Programming is applied to the design of rendezvous and fly-by trajectories to near Earth objects. Differential dynamic programming is a successive approximation technique that computes a feedback control law in correspondence of a fixed number of decision times. In this way the high dimensional problem characteristic of low-thrust optimisation is reduced into a series of small dimensional problems. The proposed method exploits the stage-wise approach to incorporate an adaptive refinement of the discretisation mesh within the optimisation process. A particular interpolation technique was used to preserve the feedback nature of the control law, thus improving robustness against some approximation errors introduced during the adaptation process. The algorithm implements global variations of the control law, which ensure a further increase in robustness. The results presented show how the proposed approach is capable of fully exploiting the multi-body dynamics of the problem; in fact, in one of the study cases, a fly-by of the Earth is scheduled, which was not included in the first guess solution.