Improved Solution Techniques For Trajectory Optimization With Application To A RLVDemonstrator Mission
Abstract
Solutions to trajectory optimization problems are carried out by the direct and indirect methods. Under broad heading of these methods, numerous algorithms such as collocation, direct, indirect and multiple shooting methods have been developed and reported in the literature. Each of these algorithms has certain advantages and limitations. For example, direct shooting technique is not suitable when the number of nonlinear programming variables is large. Indirect shooting method requires analytical derivatives of the control and costates function and a poorly guessed initial condition can result in numerical unstable values of the adjoint variable. Multiple shooting techniques can alleviate some of these difficulties by breaking down the trajectory into several segments that help in reducing the nonlinearity effects of early control on later parts of the trajectory. However, multiple shooting methods then have to handle more number of variables and constraints to satisfy the defects at the segment joints. The sie of the nonlinear programming problem in the collocation method is also large and proper locations of grid points are necessary to satisfy all the path constraints. Stochastic methods such as Genetic algorithms, on the other hand, also require large number of function evaluations before convergence. To overcome some of the limitations of the conventional methods, improved solution techniques are developed.
Three improved methods are proposed for the solution of trajectory optimization problems. They are
• a genetic algorithm employing dominance and diploidy concept.
• a collocation method using chebyshev polynomials , and
• a hybrid method that combines collocation and direct shooting technique
A conventional binarycoded genetic algorithm uses a haploid chromosome, where a single string contains all the variable information in the coded from. A diploid, as the name suggests, uses pair of chromosomes to store the same characteristic feature. The diploid genetic algorithm uses a dominant map for decoding genotype into a stable, consistent phenotype. In dominance, one allele takes precedence over another. Diploidy and dominance helps in retaining the previous best solution discovered and shields them from harmful selection in a changing environment. Hence, diploid and dominance affect a king of longterm memory in the genetic algorithm. They allow alternate solutions to coexist. One solution is expressed and the other is held in abeyance. In the improved diploid genetic algorithm, dominant and recessive genes are defined based on the fitness evaluation of each string. The genotype of fittest string is declared as the dominant map. The dominant map is dynamic in nature as it is replaced with a better individual in future generations. The concept of diploidy and dominance in the improved method mimics closer to the principles used in human genetics as compared to any such algorithms reported in the literature. It is observed that the improved diploid genetic algorithm is able to locate the optima for a given trajectory optimization problem with 10% lower computational time as compared to the haploid genetic algorithm.
A parameter optimization problem arising from an optimal control problem where states and control are approximated by piecewise Chebyshev polynomials is well known. These polynomials are more accurate than the interpolating segments involving equal spaced data. In the collocation method involving Chebyshev polynomials, derivatives of two neighboring polynomials are matched with the dynamics at the nodal points. This leads to a large number of equality constraints in the optimization problem. In the improved method, derivative of the polynomial is also matched with the dynamics at the center of segments. Though is appears the problem size is merely increased, the additional computations improve the accuracy of the polynomial for a larger segment. The implicit integration step size is enhanced and overall size of the problem is brought down to onefourth of the problem size defined with a conventional collocation method using Chebyshev polynomials.
Hybrid method uses both collocation and direct shooting techniques. Advantages of both the methods are combined to give more synergy. Collocation method is used in the starting phase of the hybrid method. The disadvantage of standalone collocation method is that tuning of grid points is required to satisfy the path constraints. Nevertheless, collocation method does give a good guess required for the terminal phase of the hybrid method, which uses a direct shooting approach. Results show nearly 30% reduction in computation time for the hybrid approach as compared to a method in which direct shooting alone is used, for the same initial guess of control.
The solutions obtained from the three improved methods are compared with an indirect method. The indirect method requires derivations of the control and adjoint equations, which are difficult and problem specific. Due to sensitivity of the costate variables, it is often difficult to find a solution through the indirect method. Nevertheless, these methods do provide an accurate result, which defines a benchmark for comparing the solutions obtained through the improved methods.
Trajectory design and optimization of a RLV(Reusable Launch Vehicle) Demonstrator mission is considered as a test problem for evaluating the performance of the improved methods. The optimization problem is difficult than a conventional launch vehicle trajectory optimization problem because of the following two reasons.
• aerodynamic lift forces in the RLV add one more dimension to the already complex launch vehicle optimization problem.
• as RLV performs a sub orbital flight, the ascent phase trajectory influences the reentry trajectory.
Both the ascent and reentry optimization problem of the RLV mission is addressed. It is observed that the hybrid method gives accurate results with least computational effort, as compared with other improved techniques for the trajectory optimization problem of RLV during its ascent flight. Hybrid method is then successfully used during the reentry phase and in designing the feasible optimal trajectories under the dispersion conditions. Analytical solutions obtained from literature are used to compare the optimized trajectory during the reentry phase.
Trajectory optimization studies are also carried out for the offnominal performances. Being a thrusting phase, the ascent trajectory is subjected to significant deviations, mainly arising out of solid booster performance dispersions. The performance index during rhe ascent phase is modified in a novel way for handling dispersions. It minimizes the state errors in a least square sense, defined at the burnout conditions ensure possibilities of safe reentry trajectories. The optimal trajectories under dispersion conditions serve as a benchmark for validating the closedloop guidance algorithm that is developed for the ascent phase flight.
Finally, an online trajectory commandreshaping algorithm is developed which meets the flight objectives under the dispersion conditions. The guidance algorithm uses a precomputed trajectory database along with some realtime measured parameters in generating the optimal steering profiles. The flight objectives are met under the dispersion conditions and the guidance generated steering profiles matches closely with the optimal trajectories.
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