Under NASA funding, Global Aerospace Corporation (GAC) together with the University of Missouri – Columbia (UMC) has begun the development of a comprehensive mission design and trajectory optimization tool for continuous thrust missions. This new tool will be computer platform independent and coded in an object-oriented language to make it versatile, extensible and capable of being used for design of a vast number of possible space missions, including orbital and interplanetary transfers. It will be user friendly with many input selections, including power and propulsion options. Gravitational and non-gravitational models will be selectable by the user, and applied to trajectory calculations as needed. Analytical solutions will be provided for initial guess requirements, and optimization methods used to size spacecraft systems, select flight times, and generate thrust steering profiles. Specific innovations and features include:

  • Operates in complex gravity models
  • Automatically and seamlessly handles multi-body transitions
  • Supports solar and nuclear electric, electrodynamic tether, solar sail and hybrid propulsion options
  • Includes non-gravitational force models such as solar pressure or atmospheric drag
  • Models solar occultation periods appropriately and automatically
  • Calculates radiation dosage from trapped radiation belts
  • Optimizes static and dynamic variables using a gradient-based algorithm to size spacecraft systems, and to select flight times and thrust-steering profiles
  • Uses analytical solutions to generate a good initial guess for the optimization method
  • Written in an object-oriented language to facilitate the development of an extensible architecture and promote platform independence
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