Optimisation of ascent and descent trajectories for lifting body space access vehicles

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One of the forerunners for future space access vehicles is the spaceplane, a lifting body vehicle capable of powered horizontal take-off and landing. Employing strategies from multidisciplinary design optimisation, this paper outlines the approaches and models used towards developing an integrated design platform to assess the preliminary design and performance of a spaceplane. The trajectory and control is optimised, based on different mission objectives and constraints, for the ascent and descent mission segments of a conceptual single stage to orbit vehicle, to a circular low Earth orbits from different take-off and landing sites. A modular approach is employed, dividing the mission into phases based on model discontinuities, changes in the operating environment or vehicle operation, mission objectives or constraints. The problem is reformulated by direct transcription using multiple shooting into a constrained NLP problem, and solved by a combination of genetic algorithms for a global search, and SQP plus interior point methods for local refinement with hard constraints.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015
Event66th International Astronautical Congress, IAC2015 - Jerusalem, Israel
Duration: 12 Oct 201516 Oct 2015


Conference66th International Astronautical Congress, IAC2015


  • space access
  • spaceplane
  • trajectory optimisation
  • multidisciplinary design optimisation
  • single stage to orbit


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