Fuel-efficient powered descent guidance on large planetary bodies via theory of functional Connections

Hunter Johnston, Enrico Schiassi, Roberto Furfaro, Daniele Mortari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this paper we present a new approach to solve the fuel-efficient powered descent guidance problem on large planetary bodies with no atmosphere (e.g. the Moon or Mars) using the recently developed Theory of Functional Connections. The problem is formulated using the indirect method which casts the optimal guidance problem as a system of nonlinear two-point boundary value problems. Using the Theory of Functional Connections, the problem constraints are analytically embedded into a “constrained expression,” which maintains a free-function that is expanded using orthogonal polynomials with unknown coefficients. The constraints are satisfied regardless of the values of the unknown coefficients which convert the two-point boundary value problem into an unconstrained optimization problem. This process casts the solution into the admissible subspace of the problem and therefore simple numerical techniques can be used (i.e. in this paper a nonlinear least-squares method is used). In addition to the derivation of this technique, the method is validated in two scenarios and the results are compared to those obtained by the general purpose optimal control software, GPOPS-II. In general, the proposed technique produces solutions of O(1010). Additionally, for the proposed test cases, it is reported that each individual TFC-based inner-loop iteration converges within 6 iterations, each iteration exhibiting a computational time between 72 and 81 milliseconds within the MATLAB legacy implementation. Consequently, the proposed methodology is potentially suitable for on-board generation of optimal trajectories in real-time.

MSC Codes 49M99

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Jan 10 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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