Robust design of low-thrust trajectories enhancing the effects of orbital perturbations using differential dynamic programming

SMART-1’s orbits around Earth. Source: ESA

In the last years the interest in electric propulsion is continuously increasing in the space industry due to the advantages in saving propellant mass and decreasing the total cost of a mission. The research activity deals with the robust design of low-thrust trajectories via differential dynamic programming to exploit the current electric propulsion systems. The aim is to derive a model to perform surfing manoeuvring in the low-thrust field enhancing the effect of orbital perturbations.

Research outcomes

  • Improvement of differential dynamic programming techniques considering a more comfortable set of parameters (orbital elements) instead of the Cartesian representation
  • Refinement of orbital perturbations modelling
  • Surfing manoeuvring assessment