Trajectory Optimization for an Ideal Solar Sail Model Using Pseudospectral Optimal Control
Pini, Alex James
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Robert Graham Melton, Thesis Supervisor Robert Graham Melton, Thesis Supervisor David Bradley Spencer, Faculty Reader Dr. George A Lesieutre, Honors Advisor
pseudospectral solar sail ideal optimization trajectory optimal control
Solar sails are currently being analyzed to determine if they are a feasible alternative to more conventional means of space propulsion, such as chemical rockets. In this thesis, a minimum-time optimal solution is obtained for a sail traveling from Earth to Venus. This solution consists of the state and control histories of the sail, as well as the shape of the trajectory and the time of flight. Direct collocation is used, specifically a pseudospectral method, to numerically generate an optimal solution for the sail’s governing equations of motion. The pseudospectral method is determined to be an effective means of solving these differential equations. The optimality of the solutions is verified by comparison of the Hamiltonian behavior to what is described in optimal control theory. The results are analyzed, noting some anomalies and offering possible explanations. Finally, the feasibility of the parameters used in the calculations is discussed based upon the current technology level of solar sails.