A Caltech Library Service

Autonomous Navigation System for Spacecraft Using Low-Thrust Trajectories

DeBenedictis, Erika A. (2012) Autonomous Navigation System for Spacecraft Using Low-Thrust Trajectories. Journal of Propulsion and Power, 28 (2). pp. 380-386. ISSN 0748-4658.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


This research describes a prototype software navigation system that would allow a spacecraft with a small amount of continuous propulsion to navigate low-energy trajectories. First, the desired route is described in terms of basic orbit shapes, such as Lyapunov orbits. This sequence of orbit shapes is converted into an itinerary of spatial boundaries that a spacecraft executing the low-energy maneuver will cross in order.A software system then employs a guided optimization algorithm that identifies the thrust angle that will maintain the desired orbit. Using this software as a research tool, simulations have identified low-energy paths that could be used by a spacecraft with an ion drive to perform a Venus flyby within four or five years of its launch from Earth. This approach makes it possible to identify complex low-energy trajectories that rely on the gravitational effects of different two-body systems (for instance, Earth–moon and Earth–sun) and to study the utility of continuous propulsion in flying such trajectories from Earth.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:© 2011 by Erika Alden DeBenedictis. Published by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Inc. Received 2 September 2010; revision received 6 July 2011; accepted for publication 22 July 2011. I would like to thank my mentor, Erik DeBenedictis. I would also like to thank Beverly DeBenedictis for her editorial guidance.
Issue or Number:2
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20120413-114542720
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:30079
Deposited By: Jason Perez
Deposited On:13 Apr 2012 20:39
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 03:47

Repository Staff Only: item control page