Quadratic-based computation of four-impulse rendezvous near circular orbit, to appear in Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics

Thomas E. Carter (Eastern Connecticut State University)
and Sergio A. Alvarez (Worcester Polytechnic Institute)


Spacecraft rendezvous problems have recently gained new importance with the proliferation of communications satellites and the ongoing work on the international space station. As space traffic increases, the economics of maneuvers required for activities such as maintenance and repair will become increasingly significant. This provides renewed impetus for theoretical work leading to efficient computation of optimal rendezvous maneuvers. In the present paper we build upon a classical paper of Prussing to develop a new computational procedure for four-impulse rendezvous using linearized equations of motion near a circular orbit. Our approach is based on an analysis of the primer vector equations (adjoint dynamics). The problem of determining if given terminal states allow a four-impulse rendezvous is reduced to the solution of a simple system of nonlinear equations.