Woollands, Robyn Michele (2016-12). Regularization and Computational Methods for Precise Solution of Perturbed Orbit Transfer Problems. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • The author has developed a suite of algorithms for solving the perturbed Lambert's problem in celestial mechanics. These algorithms have been implemented as a parallel computation tool that has broad applicability. This tool is composed of four component algorithms and each provides unique benefits for solving a particular type of orbit transfer problem. The first one utilizes a Keplerian solver (a-iteration) for solving the unperturbed Lambert's problem. This algorithm not only provides a "warm start" for solving the perturbed problem but is also used to identify which of several perturbed solvers is best suited for the job. The second algorithm solves the perturbed Lambert's problem using a variant of the modified Chebyshev-Picard iteration initial value solver that solves two-point boundary value problems. This method converges over about one third of an orbit and does not require a Newton-type shooting method and thus no state transition matrix needs to be computed. The third algorithm makes use of regularization of the differential equations through the Kustaanheimo-Stiefel transformation and extends the domain of convergence over which the modified Chebyshev-Picard iteration two-point boundary value solver will converge, from about one third of an orbit to almost a full orbit. This algorithm also does not require a Newton-type shooting method. The fourth algorithm uses the method of particular solutions and the modified Chebyshev-Picard iteration initial value solver to solve the perturbed two-impulse Lambert problem over multiple revolutions. The method of particular solutions is a shooting method but differs from the Newton-type shooting methods in that it does not require integration of the state transition matrix. The mathematical developments that underlie these four algorithms are derived in the chapters of this dissertation. For each of the algorithms, some orbit transfer test cases are included to provide insight on accuracy and efficiency of these individual algorithms. Following this discussion, the combined parallel algorithm, known as the unified Lambert tool, is presented and an explanation is given as to how it automatically selects which of the three perturbed solvers to compute the perturbed solution for a particular orbit transfer. The unified Lambert tool may be used to determine a single orbit transfer or for generating of an extremal field map. A case study is presented for a mission that is required to rendezvous with two pieces of orbit debris (spent rocket boosters). The unified Lambert tool software developed in this dissertation is already being utilized by several industrial partners and we are confident that it will play a significant role in practical applications, including solution of Lambert problems that arise in the current applications focused on enhanced space situational awareness.

publication date

  • December 2016