Original Paper

CEAS Space Journal

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 49-59

First online:

Weak stability boundary transfer to the Moon from GTO as a piggyback payload on Ariane 5

  • Dominik QuantiusAffiliated withDLR German Aerospace Center Email author 
  • , Jörn SpurmannAffiliated withDLR German Aerospace Center
  • , Erwin DekensAffiliated withDLR German Aerospace Center
  • , Hartmut PäslerAffiliated withAMSAT-DL

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In cooperation with the German non-profit amateur satellite organisation (AMSAT-DL), the German Aerospace Center developed the idea of using AMSAT’s Earth satellite P3-D as a baseline for a Moon mission. For cost-effectiveness, P3-D was launched as an auxiliary payload on Ariane 5 into a geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO) and used its on-board propulsion system to achieve a Molniya orbit. The present study describes how a similar satellite can reach a 100 × 100 km lunar orbit with the same launch strategy. A delta-v saving transfer scenario using the weak stability boundary transfer was found to be feasible taking a P3-D-like satellite bus into account. It contains phasing orbits as a solution for non-dedicated launch dates and deals with the constraints of Ariane’s GTO. This approach opens up the opportunity to accomplish a low-cost mission to the Moon with public and scientific value.


DLR-AMSAT P5 Moon WSB Auxiliary payload Open source Lunar orbit Low-cost satellite Lunar television