Aerospace Trajectory Planning and Guidance

Course #AE4881

Est.imated Completion Time: 3 months


Same as ME4881. This course covers the theory, computation and practical implementation of integrated trajectory planning and guidance algorithms for aerospace vehicles. The theory is based on the next generation of dynamical systems in mechanical and aerospace engineering. Examples will be drawn from a sample of DoD problems in space systems, missile engineering and small munitions. After a review of the state of practice, a unified theoretical framework for solving practically constrained trajectory problems will be developed. The Karush-Kuhn-Tucker conditions will form the foundations of constraint violation and validating optimality conditions. Multiplier theory and its use in solving practical problems will be covered from a real-time computational viewpoint. No-fly zones and engineering requirements will be formulated as a mathematical mixture of state and decision-variable constraints. Extensive MATLAB-based mini-projects will form the core of the laboratory experience. These projects are designed for students to learn the process of constructing a flyable trajectory planning algorithm from first principles to an integrated guidance system.


  • AE4850
  • ME4703
  • ME4822

Learning Outcomes

At the completion of the course students will be able to:

  • Understand and explain the major deficiencies and challenges in current guidance systems in a mathematically justifiable manner.
  • Understand the scientific underpinnings of trajectory planning and guidance. 
  • Achieve proficiency at the engineering level of the mathematics of constraint satisfaction, their violations, and their impacts on practical flight. 
  • Understand first-hand the emerging tools and techniques for verification and validation of prototypical flight codes. 
  • Achieve proficiency in implementation of trajectory planning and guidance algorithms. 
  • Demonstrate a flyable end-to-end algorithm for a platform of their choice.


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Application Deadlines

  •  08 Jul 2024

    Fall Quarter applications due

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