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  • A propellant-optimal guidance law on multi-impulse trajectories

    Paper ID



    • A.L. Kornhauser
    • P.M. Lion


    Princeton University






    In this paper, the deterministic theory of minimum-propellant impulsive guidance is developed. The assumption of impulsive thrusting is normally a valid representation of chemically propelled spacecrafts and greatly simplifies the equations of motion. In studying the guidance problem it is assumed that a nominal (or reference) trajectory is known and that it may be a multi-impulse trajectory. The guidance problem arises from the fact that a spacecraft is required to meet prescribed terminal conditions, but because of numerous unpredictable perturbations and errors the spacecraft is found to be off its nominal path. The pre-planned (nominal) thrust programme if left unchanged will no longer propel the vehicle to its desired destination. The guidance problem to be solved is to find the new minimum-propellant thrust programme that will guide the spacecraft from its present position to its pre-planned destination.