Optimal trajectory design of a deorbiting electrodynamic tether system
by Rui Zhong; Zheng H. Zhu
International Journal of Space Science and Engineering (IJSPACESE), Vol. 1, No. 2, 2013

Abstract: This paper studies the optimal control problem of a nano-satellite deorbiting by a short electrodynamic tether. The optimal control theory is introduced by forming the control problem as a cost index minimisation subjected to several constraints. A direct method based on Hermite-Simpson discretisation is adopted to solve the constraint cost minimisation problem, resulting in an optimal trajectory including the time history of the states and control input, which achieves best deorbiting efficiency and libration stability simultaneously under the given mission requirements. In order to reduce the computation efforts, the continuous deorbiting process of an electrodynamic tether is discretised into a sequential time intervals, where during each interval the slowly varying orbital parameters of the electrodynamic tether are assumed constant. Thus, the whole optimal trajectory is obtained by combining the solutions to the optimal control problems in the intervals. Numerical simulations are performed to test the performance of the optimal trajectory by applying the control input profile to an electrodynamic tether under complex environment perturbations.

Online publication date: Tue, 11-Jun-2013

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