Noor K. Khan

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Michael D. Zollars, PhD


An algorithm was created to optimize trajectories of hypersonic glide vehicles with selected cost functions by applying the process of continuation to direct orthogonal collocation methods. The trajectory was optimized to maximize the range of launch position given a fixed terminal location. The hypersonic glide vehicle system dynamics were modeled with three-dimensional, three degree of freedom equations of motion assuming no thrust and a non-rotating Earth with the control as bank angle. Three aerothermodynamic models were compared when input as path constraints to calculate the stagnation point heating rate at the nose as well as integrated for heat load. Use of the continuation method enabled rapid generation of converged optimized trajectories. Differences noted between iterations of the continuation process showed the evolution of vehicle trajectories based on the problem formulations. The continuation method was demonstrated as an effective tool for optimization. Each aerothermodynamic model rendered a different optimal trajectory with the Sutton Graves model producing the most conservative heat flux and heat load estimates.

AFIT Designator



A 12-month embargo was observed.

Approved for public release. Case number on file.