Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering


David K Geller


A novel trajectory and attitude control and navigation analysis tool for powered ascent is developed. The tool is capable of rapid trade-space analysis and is designed to ultimately reduce turnaround time for launch vehicle design, mission planning, and redesign work. It is streamlined to quickly determine trajectory and attitude control dispersions, propellant dispersions, orbit insertion dispersions, and navigation errors and their sensitivities to sensor errors, actuator execution uncertainties, and random disturbances. The tool is developed by applying both Monte Carlo and linear covariance analysis techniques to a closed-loop, launch vehicle guidance, navigation, and control (GN&C) system. The nonlinear dynamics and flight GN&C software models of a closed-loop, six-degree-of-freedom (6-DOF), Monte Carlo simulation are formulated and developed. The nominal reference trajectory (NRT) for the proposed lunar ascent trajectory is defined and generated. The Monte Carlo truth models and GN&C algorithms are linearized about the NRT, the linear covariance equations are formulated, and the linear covariance simulation is developed. The performance of the launch vehicle GN&C system is evaluated using both Monte Carlo and linear covariance techniques and their trajectory and attitude control dispersion, propellant dispersion, orbit insertion dispersion, and navigation error results are validated and compared. Statistical results from linear covariance analysis are generally within 10% of Monte Carlo results, and in most cases the differences are less than 5%. This is an excellent result given the many complex nonlinearities that are embedded in the ascent GN&C problem. Moreover, the real value of this tool lies in its speed, where the linear covariance simulation is 1036.62 times faster than the Monte Carlo simulation. Although the application and results presented are for a lunar, single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO), ascent vehicle, the tools, techniques, and mathematical formulations that are discussed are applicable to ascent on Earth or other planets as well as other rocket-powered systems such as sounding rockets and ballistic missiles.


This work made publicly available electronically on July 30, 2012.