Optimization methodology for ascent trajectories of lifting-body reusable launchers

Salvatore D'Angelo, Edmondo Minisci, Daniele Di Bona, Luciano Guerra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


A simulation and optimization methodology, created by the authors to optimize the trajectories of airbreathing spaceplanes and already tested and validated, has been improved and applied to a new concept of single-stage-to-orbit lifting-body spaceplane in order to search for optimal ascent trajectories for a typical mission profile. After a brief discussion on preliminary assumptions concerning the available data set, we first present the analysis procedure and the calculation method, which allowed us to simulate the ascent trajectory of a single-stage spaceplane model, able to connect the Earth-launch pad to the International Space Station. The optimization technique, belonging to the class of direct optimization methods and dealing with a wide number of independent parameters, is then described in detail, and specific results ensuring a better payload/liftoff weight ratio are widely shown. Shape and size of the vehicle as well as integrated propulsion system and weight distribution are derived from a complete data set, whereas the aerodynamic performances have been directly generated via a Navier-Stokes code. Finally, a sensitivity analysis by varying launch-pad location and final orbit inclination and altitude has been performed, and the influence of each guidance and control parameter on the optimal ascent trajectory has been emphasized.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)761-767
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2000


  • computer aided analysis
  • computer simulation
  • optimization
  • sensitivity analysis
  • trajectories


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