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.
Astrodynamics – Springer Journals
Published: Mar 1, 2019