Optimal Phasing and Performance Mapping for Translunar Satellite Missions across the Earth-Moon Nodal Cycle
Hunter, Richard Anthony John
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Fast, high-cadence translunar pathfinder missions hold great promise for advancing NASA's scientific observation, prospecting, and technology validation objectives through increased lunar exploration. This research applies high-performance computing to characterize direct injection lunar trajectories over a broad parameter space, and in so doing, demonstrates the viability of lunar pathfinder missions using the near-future commercial launch market. The results are intended to provide mission designers with an accurate, versatile reference for preliminary planning, including optimal departure epochs, and pertinent performance dependencies. Characterized herein are statistical distributions for the performance demands of optimally phased translunar missions, over an 18.6 year Earth-Moon nodal cycle, to a range of tailored lunar arrival architectures, for 0 – 24 kg small satellite payloads capable of supporting pathfinder objectives. This characterization is based upon a TLI stage with flight proven propulsion technology, high fidelity orbital dynamics, and direct injection flyby, orbit insertion and landing architectures compatible with both dedicated and ride share commercial launches.