Optimal continuous-thrust trajectories via visual trade space exploration

Daniel D. Jordan, David B. Spencer, Timothy W. Simpson, Michael A. Yukish, Gary M. Stump

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Engineering design problems often contain correlations and trade-offs that may or may not be obvious or well-understood. As design problem complexity increases, decision makers find it more and more difficult to grasp these trade-offs effectively. The rapid growth of computing power now allows the simulation of millions of design alternatives, and the ability to effectively visualize these alternatives and understand the tradeoffs associated with them has never been more important. Trade space visualization tools are designed to aid decision makers by allowing them to effectively explore a design space and grasp the underlying trade-offs and nuances particular to their specific problem. These tools provide great potential in evaluating complex dynamic systems in the aerospace industry, among others. In this article, we apply our trade space visualization software, the Applied Research Lab Trade Space Visualizer, to search for optimal constant-acceleration orbit transfers. This problem is formulated as a multi-objective optimization problem in which it is desirable to explore various competing objectives. We identify a known optimal solution and explore the input space to search for other optimal or near-optimal trajectories. Significantly perturbing the known solution to an example problem has demonstrated that the optimal solution can be converged upon successfully.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)755-766
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of the Astronautical Sciences
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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