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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 932190, 9 pages
Research Article

Displaced Electric Sail Orbits Design and Transition Trajectory Optimization

Department of Aerospace Engineering, Harbin Institute of Technology, Harbin 150006, China

Received 22 January 2014; Revised 30 April 2014; Accepted 14 May 2014; Published 3 June 2014

Academic Editor: Leonid Shaikhet

Copyright © 2014 Naiming Qi et al. 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.


Displaced orbits for spacecraft propelled by electric sails are investigated as an alternative to the use of solar sails. The orbital dynamics of electric sails based spacecraft are studied within a spherical coordinate system, which permits finding the solutions of displaced electric sail orbits and optimize transfer trajectory. Transfer trajectories from Earth's orbit to displaced orbit are also studied in an optimal framework, by using genetic algorithm and Gauss pseudospectral method. The initial guesses for the state and control histories used in the Gauss pseudospectral method are interpolated from the best solution of a genetic algorithm. Numerical simulations show that the electric sail is able to perform the transfer from Earth’s orbit to displaced orbit in acceptable time, and the hybrid optimization method has the capability to search the feasible and optimal solution without any initial value guess.