Abstract
Optimal (minimum-fuel) power-limited spacecraft trajectories
are considered. The equations of motion and the necessary conditions for
an optimal trajectory are combined into a single fourth-order differential
equation. The component equations are derived in inertial cartesian coordinates
for an arbitrary, time-invariant gravitational potential function. The associated
variational equations are also derived. In addition, expressions for several
integrals of the motion are provided. These integrals provide a check on
the accuracy of the numerical integration that is required to solve the
boundary value problem. Illustrative examples discussed are the two-body
problem and the gravitational field of an oblate spheroid. A formulation
of the optimal trajectory problem in a rotating coordinate frame is also
derived. Illustrative examples discussed are the restricted three-body problem
and the Hill-Clohessy-Wiltshire linear model. Numerical examples for the
two-body problem are presented.