Trajectory optimization

Trajectory Optimization

Trajectory optimization

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Trajectory optimization is the process of designing a trajectory that minimizes or maximizes some measure of performance within prescribed constraint boundaries. While not exactly the same, the goal of solving a trajectory optimization problem is essentially the same as solving an optimal control problem.

The selection of flight profiles that yield the greatest performance plays a substantial role in the preliminary design of flight vehicles, since the use of ad-hoc profile or control policies to evaluate competing configurations may inappropriately penalize the performance of one configuration over another. Thus, to guarantee the selection of the best vehicle design, it is important to optimize the profile and control policy for each configuration early in the design process.

Consider this example. For tactical missiles, the flight profiles are determined by the thrust and load factor (lift) histories. These histories can be controlled by a number of means including such techniques as using an angle of attack command history or an altitude/downrange schedule that the missile must follow. Each combination of missile design factors, desired missile performance, and system constraints results in a new set of optimal control parameters.


Trajectory optimization began in earnest in the 1950s as digital computers became available for the...
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