Preliminary Trajectory Design of a Multiple Neo Rendezvous Mission Through Solar Sailing

Peloni, A. , Ceriotti, M. and Dachwald, B. (2014) Preliminary Trajectory Design of a Multiple Neo Rendezvous Mission Through Solar Sailing. In: 65th International Astronautical Congress, Toronto, ON, Canada, 29 Sep - 3 Oct 2014,

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Because of its potentially infinite specific impulse, solar sail propulsion is an attractive solution to reach interplanetary mission goals otherwise not achievable, or extremely expensive in terms of propellant mass. Furthermore, the scientific interest for Near-Earth Objects (NEOs) and the categorization of some of those as Potentially Hazardous Objects (PHOs) led several researchers to focus their work on NEO-related problems. The DLR/ESA Gossamer roadmap aims to push the boundaries of solar sailing technology by establishing three steps of increasing complexity, aimed to demonstrate the feasibility and reliability of solar sail technology. A preliminary result in a recent study showed the feasibility to rendezvous three NEOs in less than 10 years within the constraints of the DLR/ESA Gossamer technology. Considering the same technology constraints, this work presents a methodology for the preliminary design of a mission to visit a number of NEOs consecutively through solar sailing. The criteria that guide the selection of the possible encounters are based on the reduction of total mission duration and the increase of the total number of target bodies. Because of the huge amount of Near-Earth objects, the selection of the candidates for a multiple rendezvous is firstly a combinatorial problem, with more than a billion of possible sequences for only three consecutive encounters. Moreover, for each sequence a trajectory optimisation problem must be solved. This is a mixed combinatorial/optimisation problem, which is notoriously complex to tackle all at once. Therefore, this study proposes two sequential steps: the first one searches for the rendezvous sequence, initially pruning the whole list of objects with heuristic rules, then using a simplified trajectory model based on a shaped approach. In the second step, an optimisation method is used to solve the subsequent solar sail optimal control problem. Using this method, three preliminary sequences have been found. The mission parameters, trajectories and control histories of each transfer leg are shown.

Item Type:Conference Proceedings
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ceriotti, Dr Matteo and Peloni, Mr Alessandro
Authors: Peloni, A., Ceriotti, M., and Dachwald, B.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering
College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy

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