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Under The Hood: Maneuver Planning With Astrogator. Matt Berry Kevin Ring. Introduction to Astrogator The components of Astrogator Segments Stopping Conditions Engine Models Targeter Profiles Examples. What are they? What do they do? How do they work?. Agenda. What’s Astrogator?.

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Presentation Transcript
Introduction to Astrogator

The components of Astrogator


Stopping Conditions

Engine Models

Targeter Profiles


What are they?

What do they do?

How do they work?

what s astrogator
What’s Astrogator?
  • Astrogator is STK’s mission planning module
  • Used for:
    • Trajectory design
    • Maneuver planning
    • Station keeping
    • Launch window analysis
    • Fuel use studies
  • Derived from code used by NASA contractors
  • Embedded into STK
astrogator in stk
Astrogator in STK
  • Astrogator is one of 11 satellite propagators
  • Propagator generates ephemeris
  • Astrogator satellite acts like other STK satellites
    • Can run STK reports (including Access)
    • Can animate in 3D and 2D windows
  • Generates ephemeris by running Mission Control Sequence (MCS)
  • Components used in MCS configured in Astrogator Browser


Mission Control Sequence




Runs Mission Control


Other Mission


the mission control sequence
The Mission Control Sequence
  • A series of segments that define the problem
  • A graphical programming language
  • Two types of segments
    • Segments that produce ephemeris
    • Segments that change the run flow of the MCS
  • Segments pass their final state as the initial state to the next segment
    • Some segments create their own initial state
the mission control sequence1
The Mission Control Sequence


Segment 1




Segment 2


segments that produce ephemeris
Segments that produce ephemeris
  • Initial State – specifies initial conditions
  • Launch – simulates launching
  • Propagate – integrate numerically until some event
  • Maneuver – impulsive or finite
  • Follow – follows leader vehicle until some event
  • Update – updates spacecraft parameters
initial state segment
Specify spacecraft state at some epoch

Choose any coordinate system

Enter in Cartesian, Keplerian, etc.

Enter spacecraft properties: mass, fuel, etc.

Initial state segment
launch segment
Specify launch and burnout location

Specify time of flight

Use any central body

Connects launch and burnout points with an ellipse

Creates its own initial state

Launch segment
propagate segment
Numerically integrates using chosen propagator

Propagator can be configured in Astrogator browser

Propagation continues until stopping conditions are met

Propagate segment
stopping conditions
Stopping conditions
  • Define events on which to stop a segment
  • Stop when some “calc object” reaches a desired value
    • A calc object is any calculated value, such as an orbital element
    • Calc objects can be user-defined
stopping conditions1
Stopping conditions
  • Can also specify constraints:
    • Only stop if another calc object is =, <, >, some value
    • Determines if exact point stopping condition is met, then checks if constraints are satisfied
    • Multiple constraints behave as logical “And”
  • Segments can have multiple stopping conditions
    • Stops when the first one is met
    • Behaves as a logical “Or”
event detection
Event detection
  • Exact time of event found with Regula-Falsi
  • f(t)found by integrating to time t
propagate segment pseudo code
Propagate segment: pseudo-code

while (keepGoing)

take integration step

if (stopping condition tripped over step)

find exact point of stopping condition

if (constraints met at that point)

keepGoing = false

end if

end if

end while

maneuver segment
Maneuver segment owns two distinct segments:

Finite maneuver

Impulsive maneuver

Combo box controls which one is run

Finite maneuver created from impulsive maneuver with “Seed” button

Maneuver segment
impulsive maneuver
Adds delta-V to the current state

Can specify magnitude and direction of delta-V

Computes estimated burn duration and fuel usage, based on chosen engine

Can configure engine model in Astrogator browser

Impulsive maneuver
impulsive maneuver1
Impulsive maneuver


Impulsive Maneuver

Add delta-V to state


finite maneuver
Works like propagate segment, thrust added to force model

Can specify the direction of the thrust vector

Can be specified in plug-in

Magnitude of thrust comes from engine model

Can center the burn about current state

Finite maneuver
engine models
Compute thrust, Isp, and/or mass flow rate (two of three)

Four Kinds:

Constant Thrust and Isp

Polynomial Engine: T and Isp functions of pressure, temperature

Ion: Isp and mass flow functions of power

Plugin: you decide

Thrust and mass flow rate sent back to force model

Engine models
finite burn seeding
Creates finite maneuver from impulsive

Duration stopping condition set to estimated burn duration of impulsive maneuver

Copies all settings from impulsive maneuver to finite maneuver

Finite burn seeding
follow segment
Choose leader to follow

Specify offset from the leader

Follow leader between “joining conditions” and “separation conditions”

Behave just like stopping conditions

Creates its own initial state

Follow segment
follow segment pseudo code
Follow segment: pseudo-code

while (keepGoing)

get leader’s next ephemeris point

add offset

if (not adding points yet)

if (joining conditions are met)

find exact point of joining condition

start adding points

end if

end if

if (adding points)

add point to ephemeris

if (separation conditions met over step)

find exact point of separation conditions

keepGoing = false

end if

end if

end while

update segment
Used to update spacecraft properties

Useful to simulate stage separation, docking, etc

Set properties to a new value, or add or subtract from their current value

Update segment
update segment1
Update segment



Update state parameters


segments that change run flow
Segments that change run flow
  • Auto-Sequences – called by propagate segments
  • Target Sequence – loops over segments, changing values until goals are met
  • Backwards Sequence – changes direction of propagation
  • Return – exits a sequence
  • Stop – stops computation
auto sequences
  • Instead of stopping a segment, stopping conditions can trigger an auto-sequence
  • An auto-sequence is another sequence of segments
    • Behaves like a subroutine
  • After the auto-sequence is finished, control returns to the calling segment
  • Auto-sequences can inherit stopping conditions from the calling segment
auto sequences example
Auto-sequences example

Initial State




Duration = 1 day

Burn In Plane


Burn Out Of Plane


Finite Maneuver

In Plane

Finite Maneuver

Out of Plane

Duration = 100 sec

Duration= 100 sec

target sequence
Runs through a series of targeter profiles

Behaves like a while loop

Profile manipulates the segments in target sequence

Two types of profiles:

Differential corrector

Profiles that change segments’ properties

Target sequence
differential corrector
Differential corrector
  • Controls chosen from segments in target sequence
  • Results are calc objects computed at the end of segments in the sequence
  • Determine controls, x, to meet results, y:
  • Evaluated by running targeter sequence
differential corrector1
Differential corrector
  • Correction to controls found from linearized Taylor series:
  • A found from finite differencing, perturbation added to each control
  • Inverse found from singular value decomposition
differential corrector pseudo code
Differential corrector: pseudo-code

run sequence to get results

while (not converged and count < max iterations)

for each control

adjust control by perturbation

run sequence to get results

end for

compute partial matrix

compute inverse of partials

compute new control values

run sequence to get results

increment count

end while

profiles that alter segment properties
Profiles that alter segment properties
  • Change maneuver type – toggles finite / impulsive
  • Seed finite maneuver – creates finite from impulsive maneuver
  • Change stopping conditions – toggles stopping conditions
  • Change return – enables / disables return segment
target sequence pseudo code
Target sequence: pseudo-code

execute each profile

run sequence final time

clean up after profiles

  • After targeter finished running, segments left in original state
  • Changes to controls / segment properties not applied until “Apply Corrections” button is used
using the targeter effectively
Using the targeter effectively
  • Multiple targeting profiles divide problem into parts
    • Coarse and fine targeting
    • U.S. Patent No. 6,937,968
  • Target sequence can be changed between DC profiles with segment property profiles
  • Differential corrector relies on good partials
    • Set perturbation and max step appropriately
    • Best to have equal number of controls and results
targeting examples
Targeting examples
  • Coarse and fine targeting of a maneuver
  • Example of “bad partials”
backward sequence
Segments in backward sequences propagated backwards:

Propagate & finite maneuvers integrated with negative time step

Impulsive maneuvers’ delta-Vs are subtracted

Can pass initial or final state of sequence to next segment

Backward sequence
backwards prop example
Backwards prop example
  • Meet in the middle targeting problem
putting the ephemeris together
Putting the ephemeris together
  • Segment ephemeris merged after MCS is run
  • When overlaps occur: later segment in MCS wins
  • Only overlapped portion of earlier segment’s ephemeris removed
  • Possible to have discontinuous ephemeris
  • Sequences have option not to generate ephemeris
ephemeris merging
Ephemeris merging

Segment 1

Segment 2

Final Ephemeris






Two points

at the same time

  • Astrogator is a tool in STK for mission planning
  • Astrogator is not complicated – it just does what you tell it to do
  • Some math in Astrogator
    • Event detection
    • Differential corrector
    • Engine model
    • Orbit propagation
  • Configuring Astrogator is the key
other related events
Other related events
  • Methods of Orbit Propagation Jim WoodburnWednesday 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Space SystemsJohn Carrico and Bob HallWednesday 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
  • Astrogator Users’ Group breakfastThursday 7:15 a.m.
  • STK Plug-ins using Compiled CodeVince CoppolaThursday 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.