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Direct transcription of low-thrust trajectories with finite trajectory elements

Zuiani, Federico and Vasile, Massimiliano and Palmas, Alessandro and Avanzini, Giulio (2010) Direct transcription of low-thrust trajectories with finite trajectory elements. In: 61st International Astronautical Congress, IAC 2010, 2010-09-27 - 2010-10-01.

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This paper presents novel approach to Low-Thrust trajectory design, based on a first order approximate analytical solution of Gauss planetary equations. The analytical solution is fairly accurate and could be employed for a fast propagation of perturbed Keplerian motion. Thus, it has been integrated in a Direct Transcription Method based one Finite Perturbed Elements in Time (FPET). It has been proved that this method is suitable for the solution of boundary value transfer problem by few iterations of a gradient based local optimizer. This allows in turn to include the FPET Transcription method into a global optimization tool to solve orbital transfer problem where both total ΔV and transfer time need to be minimised with respect to departure and arrival dates. To prove the concept, two transfer problems have been investigated, the first being a direct rendez-vous transfer between Earth and Mars; the second is a spiralling orbit rising for a low Earth orbit. In both cases the results obtain confirmed the soundness of the proposed approach.