Advanced Mission Design: Interplanetary Super Highway Trajectory Method
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Near-future space missions demand the delivery of massive payloads to deep space destinations. Given foreseeable propulsion technology, this is feasible only if we can design trajectories that require the smallest possible propulsive energy input. This research aims to design interplanetary space missions by using new low-energy trajectory methods that take advantage of natural dynamics in the solar system. This energy efficient trajectory technology, called the Interplanetary Super Highway (IPSH), allows long duration space missions with minimum fuel requirements. To develop the IPSH trajectory design method, invariant manifolds of the three-body problem are used. The invariant manifolds, which are tube-like structures that issue from the periodic orbits around the L1 and L2 Lagrangian points, can be patched together to achieve voyages of immense distances while the spacecraft expends little or no energy. This patched three-body method of trajectory design is fairly well developed for impulsive propulsion. My research is dedicated to advance its capabilities by extending it to continuous, low-thrust, high specific impulse propulsion methods. The IPSH trajectory design method would be useful in designing many types of interplanetary missions. As one of its applications, my research is focused on Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) rendezvous mission design for exploration, mitigation, and mining. Asteroids have many valuable resources such as minerals and volatiles, which can be brought back to Earth or used in space for propulsion systems or space habitats and stations. Transportation to and from asteroids will require relatively massive vehicles capable of sustaining crew for long durations while economizing on propellant mass. Thus, in the design of advanced NEA rendezvous missions, developing new technology for low cost trajectories will play a key role. In a second application study, the solar sail mission for Mars exploration is considered. By using solar radiation pressure, solar sails provide propulsive power. This thrust affects the three-body system dynamics such that the Sun-Mars L1 and L2 Lagrangian points are shifted toward the Sun and the geometry of the invariant manifolds around L1 and L2 points is changed. By taking advantage of these features, a low-thrust trajectory for Mars exploration is developed.
Kim, Hyerim (2015). Advanced Mission Design: Interplanetary Super Highway Trajectory Method. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A & M University. Available electronically from