A lunar cargo mission design strategy using variable low thrust

Young Joo Song, Sang Young Park, Kyu Hong Choi, Eun Sup Sim

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


A design technique for a near optimal, Earth-Moon transfer trajectory using continuous variable low thrust is proposed. For the Earth-Moon transfer trajectory, analytical and numerical methods are combined to formulate the trajectory optimization problem. The basic concept of the proposed technique is to utilize analytically optimized solutions when the spacecraft is flying near a central body where the transfer trajectories are nearly circular shaped, and to use a numerical optimization method to match the spacecraft's states to establish a final near optimal trajectory. The plasma thruster is considered as the main propulsion system which is currently being developed for crewed/cargo missions for interplanetary flight. The gravitational effects of the 3rd body and geopotential effects are included during the trajectory optimization process. As the proposed strategy has the characteristics of a lesser computational load, little sensitivity to initial conditions, and obtaining solutions quickly, this method can be utilized in the initial scoping studies for mission design and analysis. The demonstrated results will give various insights into future lunar cargo trajectories using plasma thrusters with continuous variable low thrust, establishing approximate costs as well as trajectory characteristics.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe F. Landis Markley Astronautics Symposium - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the American Astronautical Society F. Landis Markley Astronautics Symposium
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2008
EventAmerican Astronautical Society F. Landis Markley Astronautics Symposium - Cambridge, MD, United States
Duration: 2008 Jun 292008 Jul 2

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


OtherAmerican Astronautical Society F. Landis Markley Astronautics Symposium
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityCambridge, MD

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work is supported by the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) through “Development of Preliminary Lunar Mission Trajectory Design Software” project (No. FR07510). The authors sincerely thank the anonymous reviewers and the editor for their valuable comments and suggestions with regard to improving the quality of this manuscript.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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