Terminal Maneuver for an Optimal Cooperative Impulsive Rendezvous


The terminal maneuver for an optimal cooperative impulsive orbital rendezvous of two space vehicles is determined. This maneuver is the last phase of a rendezvous and occurs at the point of interception of the two vehicles. Both vehicles are assumed to be active, i.e., capable of providing velocity changes required for rendezvous. Total propellant consumption is minimized, which requires more than minimizing the total velocity change. For a specified total velocity change (minimum or not) the total propellant consumed is nonunique and can be minimized. The propellant mass fraction of each vehicle is constrained between zero and a specified maximum value less than unity. An interesting paradox can occur in which the less efficient vehicle provides all of the required velocity change. Three general types of optimal solutions are determined and numerical examples are provided.