An Application of Bacterial Foraging Optimization to Orbital Transfers

Open Access
Rosenberger, Tyler J
Area of Honors:
Aerospace Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • David Bradley Spencer, Thesis Supervisor
  • Mark David Maughmer, Honors Advisor
  • Bioforaging
  • Optimization
  • Orbital Transfer
  • Trajectory Optimization
Bacterial foraging algorithms are a method used to optimize the behavior of a variable set with a determinable outcome. While the use of such algorithms is not entirely new in the field of orbital mechanics, the algorithm examined in this thesis, includes attraction-repellent parameters that, in theory, should speed and improve the solution of problems. To test the validity of this unexamined algorithm, it is applied to several important real-world problems for orbital mechanics. The first problem to be solved is the two-burn in-plane transfer which has the known optimal solution of the Hohmann transfer. After examining the accuracy and validity of this problem’s results, the problem complexity is increased to model a low-thrust transfer between Earth and Mars. At both stages of the successively more complex analysis, the accuracy and convergence of the attraction/repulsion bioforaging optimization (BFO) algorithm is evaluated. It is found that the extra steps involved in the swarming mechanic bring excessive computational time and can reduce accuracy of the results. Future work with this algorithm will include fine-tuning algorithm parameters and further increasing the trajectory complexity.