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Computational aspects of multilevel trajectory optimization


This paper presents new computational results in multilevel trajectory optimization. The original formulation of trajectory decomposition is extended and applied to a difficult multiple arc trajectory example, the low thrust interplanetary swingby problem. A numerical solution is obtained for this trajectory which is characterized by nonlinear, time variant differential equations and interior boundaries and discontinuities. The time domain decomposition of the trajectory is made at the boundaries between arc segments. A three level optimization hierarchy is employed to transform the first feasible trajectory iterate into a final solution trajectory. This example is characteristic of a large class of interplanetary swingby problems which defy solution by conventional computational methods because of multiple discontinuities, constraints, and severe numerical sensitivities. The multilevel approach appears to be effective in obtaining a solution to problems of this type when other more conventional methods are unsatisfactory.

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