Physics-Informed Neural Networks for Optimal Planar Orbit Transfers

Enrico Schiassi, Andrea D’ambrosio, Kristofer Drozd, Fabio Curti, Roberto Furfaro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


This paper presents a novel framework, combining the indirect method and Physics-Informed Neural Networks (PINNs), to learn optimal control actions for a series of optimal planar orbit transfer problems. According to the indirect method, the optimal control is retrieved by directly applying the Pontryagin minimum principle, which provides the first-order necessary optimality conditions. The necessary conditions result in a two-point boundary value problem (TPBVP) in the state–costate pair, constituting a system of ordinary differential equations, representing the physics constraints of the problem. More precisely, the goal is to model a neural network (NN) representation of the state–costate pair for which the residuals of the TPVBP are as close to zero as possible. This is done using PINNs, which are particular NNs where the training is driven by the problem’s physics constraints. A particular PINN method will be used, named Extreme Theory of Functional Connections (X-TFC), which is a synergy of the classic PINN and the Theory of Functional Connections. With X-TFC, the TPBVP’s boundary conditions are analytically satisfied. This avoids having unbalanced gradients during the network training. The results show the feasibility of employing PINNs to tackle this class of optimal control problems for space applications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)834-849
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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