Doctoral Dissertations

Keywords and Phrases

Collinear libration points; Genetic algorithm; Mission design tool; Spacecraft formations; Two-level targeter


"The growing interest in deep space spacecraft missions and distributed spacecraft formations has established the need for state-of-the-art advancements in the areas of relative dynamics and mission design. The focus of this research is to develop methods for identifying natural (i.e. ballistic) relative formation trajectories in the vicinity of the collinear libration points. A natural formation decreases the station keeping costs, lowering the consumption of spacecraft resources and extending mission lifetime. This research adapts both numerical and machine learning approaches to the problem of mission design. A genetic algorithm was first used to identify a multi-agent spacecraft formation in the vicinity of the collinear libration points that seeks to maximize a fitness function composed of the mission requirements. Due to the high computational cost, the algorithm approximates the spacecraft motion using an analytical approximation. This preserves the ability of the genetic algorithm to fully explore the design space and decreases the computational expense.

Once the genetic algorithm identifies a suitable spacecraft formation, in order to improve the solution fidelity an iterative two-level targeter is initialized using the solution of interest identified by the genetic algorithm and the nonlinear equations of motion are propagated to identify each spacecraft's trajectory in the circular restricted three-body problem. The results show that the fourth-order approximation for the initialization step of the two-level targeter better estimates the nonlinear motion than a first-order approximation and results in minor changes to the final converged trajectory and preserves the desired orbit parameters. The converged trajectories from the two-level targeter were assessed for meeting mission success criteria, and the results indicate the same level or only slightly lower levels of mission success. Multiple case studies are presented that show applications and performances of the proposed mission design method"--Abstract, p. iii


Pernicka, Henry J.

Committee Member(s)

Akin, Elvan
Corns, Steven
Darling, Jacob E.
Han, Daoru Frank


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Degree Name

Ph. D. in Aerospace Engineering


Missouri University of Science and Technology

Publication Date

Summer 2023


xiv, 113 pages

Note about bibliography

Includes_bibliographical_references_(pages 108-112)


© 2023 Donna Marie Jennings, All Rights Reserved

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access

File Type




Thesis Number

T 12293

Electronic OCLC #