Leveraging optimal control demonstrations in reinforcement learning for powered descent

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This work presents an approach to deriving a controller for spacecraft powered descent using reinforcement learning. To assist in the learning process, our approach uses optimal control demonstrations which provide open-loop control for optimal trajectories. Combining these approaches to use the optimal trajectories as demonstrations helps to overcome issues with convergence on desirable policies in the reinforcement learning problem. We demonstrate the applicability of this approach on a simulated 3-DOF Mars lander. The results show that the learned controller is capable of achieving a pinpoint soft landing from a range of initial conditions. Compared to the open-loop optimal trajectories alone, this controller generalises to more initial conditions and can cope with environmental uncertainties.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages15
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2021
Event8th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques - Virtual
Duration: 22 Jun 202125 Jun 2021


Conference8th International Conference on Astrodynamics Tools and Techniques
Abbreviated titleICATT 2021
Internet address


  • reinforcement learning (RL)
  • intelligent control

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