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The problem of extending that part of the fuel life cycle during which a reactor is capable of sustaining load-follow operation is formulated as an optimal control problem. A two-node model representation of pressurized water reactor dynamics is used, leading to a set of non-linear ordinary differential equations. Differential Dynamic Programming is used to solve directly the resulting nonlinear optimization problem and obtain the trajectories of soluble boron concentration and control rod insertion. Results of computations performed for a reference reactor are presented, showing how the optimal control policy stretches the capability of the reactor to follow an average daily load curve towards the end of the fuel life cycle.