Nonlinear optimal control and near-optimal guidance strategies in spacecraft general attitude maneuvers

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


Solving the optimal open-loop control problems for spacecraft large-angle attitude maneuvers generally requires the use of numerical techniques whose reliability is strongly case dependent. The primary goal of this dissertation is to increase the solution reliability of the associated nonlinear two-point boundary-value problems as derived from Pontryagin’s Principle. Major emphasis is placed upon the formulation of the best possible starting or nominal solution. Constraint relationships among the state and costate variables are utilized. A hybrid approach which begins with the direct gradient method and ends with the indirect method of particular solutions is proposed. Test case results which indicate improved reliability are presented.

The nonlinear optimal control law derived from iterative procedures cannot adjust itself in accordance with state deviations measured during the control period. A real-time near-optimal guidance scheme which takes the perturbed states to the desired manifold by tracking a given optimal trajectory is also proposed. Numerical simulations are presented which show that highly accurate tracking results can be achieved.