Low-thrust trajectory design techniques with a focus on maintaining constant energy
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Analytical solutions to complex trajectory design problems are scarce, since only a few specific cases allow for closed-form solutions. The main purpose of this dissertation is to design simple algorithms for trajectory design using continuous thrust, with a focus on low-thrust applications. By “simple” here we seek to achieve algorithms that either admit an analytical solution, or require minimal input by the user and minimal computation time. The three main contributions of this dissertation are: designing Lyapunov-based closed-loop guidance laws for orbit transfers, finding semi-analytical solutions using a constant magnitude thrust, and perturbation theory for approximate solutions to low-thrust problems. The technical aspect that these problems share in common is that they all use, fully or partially, a thrusting model in which the energy of the system is kept constant. Many orbit transfer problems are shown to be solved with this thrusting protocol.