Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Kira Abercromby

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


The information presented in the thesis is a continuation of the Spacecraft Trajectory Optimization Suite (STOpS). This suite was originally designed and developed by Timothy Fitzgerald and further developed by Shane Sheehan, both graduate students at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. Spacecraft utilizing low-thrust transfers are becoming more and more common due to their efficiency on interplanetary trajectories, and as such, finding the most optimal trajectory between two planets is something of interest. The version of STOpS presented in this thesis uses Multiple Gravity-Assist Low-Thrust (MGALT) trajectories paired with the island model paradigm to accomplish this goal. The island model utilizes four different global search algorithms: a Genetic Algorithm, Differential Evolution, Particle Swarm Optimization, and Monotonic Basin Hopping. The first three algorithms were featured in the initial version of STOpS written by Fitzgerald [1], and were subsequently modified by Sheehan [2] to work with a low-thrust adaptation of STOpS. For this work, Monotonic Basin Hopping was added to aid the suite with the MGALT trajectory search.

Monotonic Basin Hopping was successfully validated against four different test functions which had been used to validate the other three algorithms. The purpose of this validation was to ensure Monotonic Basin Hopping would work as intended, ensuring it would work in cooperation with the other three algorithms to produce a near optimal solution. After verifying the addition of Monotonic Basin Hopping, all four algorithms were used in the island model paradigm to verify MGALT STOpS’ ability to solve two known orbital transfer problem. The first verification case involved an Earth to Mars transfer with fixed thruster parameters and a predetermined time of flight. The second verification case involved a transfer from Earth to Jupiter via a Mars gravity assist; two different versions of the verification case were solved against trajectories produced by industry optimization software, the Satellite Tour Design Program Low-Thrust Gravity Assist and the Gravity Assisted Low-thrust Local Optimization Program. In the first verification case, MGALT STOpS successfully validated the Earth to Mars trajectory problem and found results agreeable to literature. In the second verification case, MGALT STOpS was partially successful in validating the Earth to Mars to Jupiter trajectory problems, and found results similar to literature. The final software produced for this work is a trajectory optimization suite implemented in MATLAB, which can solve interplanetary low-thrust trajectories with or without the inclusion of gravity assists.

Included in

Astrodynamics Commons