A new algorithm to generate low-thrust spacecraft trajectories

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Sreesawet, Suwat
Dutta, Atri
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All-electric satellites are gaining favor among the manufacturers and operators of satellites in Geostationary Earth Orbit (GEO) due to cost saving potential. These satellites have the capability of performing all propulsive tasks with electric propulsion including transfer to GEO. Although fuel-efficient, electric thrusters lead to long transfer, during which the health and the usability of spacecraft is affected due to its exposure to hazardous space radiation in the Van Allen belts. Hence, determining electric orbit-raising trajectory that minimize transfer time is crucial for all-electric satellite operation. This thesis proposes a novel method to determine minimum-time orbit-raising trajectory by blending the ideas of direct optimization and guidance-like trajectory optimization schemes. The proposed methodology is applicable for both planar and non-planar transfers and for transfers starting from arbitrary circular and elliptic orbits. Therefore, it can be used for rapidly analyzing various orbit-raising mission scenarios. The methodology utilizes the variational equations of motion of the satellite in the context of the two-body problem by considering the low-thrust of an electric engine as a perturbing force. The no-thrust condition due to Earth's shadow is also considered. The proposed methodology breaks the overall optimization problem into multiple sub-problems and each sub-problem minimizes a desired objective over the sun-lit part of the trajectory. Two different objective types are considered. Type I transfers minimize the deviation of the total energy and eccentricity of final position from the GEO, while type II transfers minimize the deviation of total energy and angular momentum. Using the developed tool, several mission scenarios are analyzed including, a new type of mission scenarios, in which more than one thruster type are used for the transfer. The thesis presents the result for all studied scenarios and compares the performance of Type I and Type II transfers.

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Thesis (M.S.)--Wichita State University, College of Engineering, Dept. of Aerospace Engineering
Wichita State University
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