Thermal Protection System and Trajectory Optimization for Orbital Plane Change Aeroassisted Maneuver


  • Antonio Mazzaracchio Sapienza University of Rome - Rome


Aeroassisted maneuver, Heat shield, otimization, Orbital plane change, Thermal protection system.


The aim of this paper was to identify, for a specific maneuver, the optimal combination between the trajectory and the associated heat shield configuration, namely the locations and thicknesses of the ablative and reusable zones, that maximize the allowable payload mass for a spacecraft. The analysis is conducted by considering the coupling between the trajectory’s dynamics and the heat shield’s thermal behavior while using a highly representative model of the heat shield. A global optimization procedure and original software were developed and implemented. The analyzed mission considers an aeroassisted transfer from two low Earth orbits with an assigned orbital plane change maneuver for a given delta wing vehicle equipped with a heat shield consisting of both ablative and reusable materials. The results indicate that the aeroassisted maneuver is more convenient than a “full propulsive” maneuver in the analyzed case, even considering the increased vehicle mass due to the presence of the heat shield.

Author Biography

Antonio Mazzaracchio, Sapienza University of Rome - Rome

Astronautical, Electrical, and Energetic Engineering Department






Original Papers