Artificial Intelligence Assisted Spacecraft Trajectory Optimization and Planning 


                    Atri Dutta, Aerospace Engineering, Wichita State University (WSU) 


                   James Steck, Aerospace Engineering, WSU 

                   Craig McLaughlin, Aerospace Engineering, University of Kansas (KU)  

                   Arslan Munir, Computer Science, Kansas State University (KSU)

NASA Technical Monitor: 

                  John Dankanich, Chief Technologist, NASA Marshall Space Flight Center 

Industry Collaborator: 

                  Pradipto Ghosh, Senior Principal Systems Engineer, Northrop Grumman 

STEM Partner: 

                  William Polite, Director of Equity, Diversity and Accountability, Wichita Public School 

Students (directly funded by project): 

                  Amrutha Dasyam, Graduate Research Assistant, Aerospace Engineering, WSU 

                  Kyle Messick, Graduate Research Assistant, Aerospace Engineering, WSU  

                  Yrithu, Graduate Research Assistant, Aerospace Engineering, WSU  

                  KU Student 

                  KSU Student 

Other students: 

                 Pardhasai Chadalavada 

                 Tanzimul Farabi 

                  Ramses Young, NASA JumpStart Student, Aerospace Engineering, WSU  

                  Melvin Rafi, 

                  Matthew Chace 


                 NASA EPSCOR CAN Program 


Spacecraft trajectory optimization is a critical aspect of space mission analysis. In recent years, there has been an increased interest within NASA in applying machine-learning algorithms to improve the performance of trajectory optimization solvers. Optimization of trajectories for spacecraft employing solarelectric propulsion is a challenging problem because it requires the solution of a nonlinear, non-convex mathematical programming problem. This problem is even more complicated when the spacecraft is located close to a planetary body. First, the low-thrust propulsion system provides a small acceleration relative to the local gravitational acceleration, making the transfer long and complex. Second, the presence of the planets shadow prohibits thrust generation by electric thrusters, thereby making the transfer multi-phase. Third, gravitationally trapped radiation degrades the spacecraft solar array that powers the electric thrusters.