Automated generation and optimization of ballistic lunar capture transfer trajectories
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The successful completion of the Hiten mission in 1991 provided real-world validation of a class of trajectories defined as ballistic lunar capture transfers. This class of transfers is often considered for missions to the Moon and for tours of the moons of other planets. In this study, the dynamics of the three and four body problems are examined to better explain the mechanisms of low energy transfers in the Earth-Moon system, and to determine their optimality. Families of periodic orbits in the restricted Earth-Sun-spacecraft three body problem are shown to be generating families for low energy transfers between orbits of the Earth. The low energy orbit-to-orbit transfers are shown to require less fuel than optimal direct transfers between the same orbits in the Earth-Sun-spacecraft circular restricted three body problem. The low energy transfers are categorized based on their generating family and the number of flybys in the reference three body trajectory. The practical application of these generating families to spacecraft mission design is demonstrated through a robust nonlinear targeting algorithm for finding Sun-Earth- Moon-spacecraft four body transfers based on startup transfers indentified in the Earth- Sun three body problem. The local optimality of the transfers is examined through use of Lawden’s primer vector theory, and new conditions of optimality for single-impulse-to-capture lunar transfers are established.
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