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International Journal of Aerospace Engineering
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 480320, 9 pages
Research Article

Solving Coplanar Power-Limited Orbit Transfer Problem by Primer Vector Approximation Method

Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, University of Missouri, Columbia, MO 65211, USA

Received 1 November 2011; Revised 12 January 2012; Accepted 16 January 2012

Academic Editor: Alessandro A. Quarta

Copyright © 2012 Weijun Huang. 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.


The coplanar orbit transfer problem has been an important topic in astrodynamics since the beginning of the space era. Though many approximate solutions for power-limited orbit transfer problem have been developed, most of them rely on simplifications of the dynamics of the problem. This paper proposes a new approximation method called primer vector approximation method to solve the classic power-limited orbit transfer problem. This method makes no simplification on the dynamics, but instead approximates the optimal primer-vector function. With this method, this paper derives two approximate solutions for the power-limited orbit transfer problem. Numerical tests show the robustness and accuracy of the approximations.