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
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.