A distributed parameter thermal and stress model is developed for a nuclear rocket. The resultant equations for the optimal control problem are a pair of coupled, bilinear, partial differential equations. The thermal stress constraint forms an inequality which is a function of both the state and the control. The initial conditions are steady state, and the terminal condition is that the coolant flow obtain a fixed, higher level. The distributed parameter system is discretized in the space dimension to give an arbitrary order set of ordinary differential, state equations. It is shown how a result based on the Weierstrass necessary condition and derived by Berkovitz from the calculus of variations using a slack variable technique may be applied. This condition is shown to require the optimal control to be “boundary control” with no switching. The optimal control program must make the inequality constraint an equality at some location throughout the transient. Based on the result that boundary control is the optimal control, an algorithm is developed to compute the optimal control program. The algorithm was programmed on a digital computer and numerical results are given for the optimal flow program and the resultant stress distributions for various cases.

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