Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


Kira Abercromby


The work presented here is a continuation of Spacecraft Trajectory Optimization Suite (STOpS), a master’s thesis written by Timothy Fitzgerald at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Low-thrust spacecraft engines are becoming much more common due to their high efficiency, especially for interplanetary trajectories. The version of STOpS presented here optimizes low-thrust trajectories using the Island Model Paradigm with three stochastic evolutionary algorithms: the genetic algorithm, differential evolution, and particle swarm optimization. While the algorithms used here were designed for the original STOpS, they were modified for this work.

The low-thrust STOpS was successfully validated with two trajectory problems and their known near-optimal solutions. The first verification case was a constant-thrust, variable-time Earth orbit to Mars orbit transfer where the thrust was 3.787 Newtons and the time was approximately 195 days. The second verification case was a variable-thrust, constant-time Earth orbit to Mercury orbit transfer with the thrust coming from a solar electric propulsion model equation and the time being 355 days. Low-thrust STOpS found similar near-optimal solutions in each case. The final result of this work is a versatile MATLAB tool for optimizing low-thrust interplanetary trajectories.