Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 769376, 19 pages
Research Article

Numerical Analysis of Constrained, Time-Optimal Satellite Reorientation

Department of Aerospace Engineering, Pennsylvania State University, 229 Hammond Building., University Park, PA 16802, USA

Received 11 July 2011; Accepted 11 October 2011

Academic Editor: Josep Masdemont

Copyright © 2012 Robert G. Melton. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Previous work on time-optimal satellite slewing maneuvers, with one satellite axis (sensor axis) required to obey multiple path constraints (exclusion from keep-out cones centered on high-intensity astronomical sources) reveals complex motions with no part of the trajectory touching the constraint boundaries (boundary points) or lying along a finite arc of the constraint boundary (boundary arcs). This paper examines four cases in which the sensor axis is either forced to follow a boundary arc, or has initial and final directions that lie on the constraint boundary. Numerical solutions, generated via a Legendre pseudospectral method, show that the forced boundary arcs are suboptimal. Precession created by the control torques, moving the sensor axis away from the constraint boundary, results in faster slewing maneuvers. A two-stage process is proposed for generating optimal solutions in less time, an important consideration for eventual onboard implementation.