Optimal circle-to-rectilinear orbit transfer with circumferential thrust

Abstract

This paper investigates the optimal transfer trajectories from a circular parking orbit towards the apocenter of a rectilinear ellipse, where the spacecraft reaches a quasi-stationary condition relative to an inertial reference frame. The spacecraft is equipped with a propulsion system that provides a circumferential continuous propulsive acceleration, that is, an acceleration whose direction is perpendicular to the primary body-spacecraft line. The performance index to minimize is the total flight time, and an indirect method is used to analyze the transfer trajectories. In this context, the optimal transfer performance is obtained as a function of the spacecraft propulsive acceleration magnitude through an interpolation procedure of numerical simulations. The results obtained with a continuous thrust propulsion system are also compared with those derived from a multi-impulse transfer. Finally, the paper investigates a heliocentric mission scenario in which the spacecraft minimizes the flight time required to reach a rectilinear ellipse with a given value of the aphelion radius.

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Correspondence to Alessandro A. Quarta.

Additional information

Andrea Caruso received his B.S. and M.S. degrees in aerospace engineering from University of Pisa, in 2013 and 2016, respectively. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of Pisa. His research interests are in spaceflight mechanics and spacecraft trajectory optimization.

Alessandro A. Quarta received his Ph.D. degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Pisa, in 2005, and is currently Professor of Flight Mechanics at the Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering of the University of Pisa. His main research areas include spaceflight simulation, spacecraft mission analysis and design, low-thrust trajectory optimization, solar sail and E-sail dynamics and control.

Giovanni Mengali received his doctor engineer degree in aeronautical engineering, in 1989, from the University of Pisa. Since 1990, he has been with the Department of Aerospace Engineering (now Department of Civil and Industrial Engineering) of the University of Pisa, first as a Ph.D. student, then as an assistant and an associate professor. Currently, he is Professor of Space Flight Mechanics. His main research areas include spacecraft mission analysis, trajectory optimization, solar sails, electric sails and aircraft flight dynamics and control.

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Quarta, A.A., Mengali, G. & Caruso, A. Optimal circle-to-rectilinear orbit transfer with circumferential thrust. Astrodyn 3, 31–43 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s42064-018-0034-9

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Keywords

  • circumferential acceleration
  • rectilinear ellipse
  • optimal transfer
  • preliminary mission analysis
  • quasi-stationary condition