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An earth pole-sitter using hybrid propulsion

Ceriotti, M. and McInnes, C.R. (2010) An earth pole-sitter using hybrid propulsion. In: AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference 2010, 2010-08-02 - 2010-08-05.

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In this paper we investigate optimal pole-sitter orbits using hybrid solar sail and solar electric propulsion (SEP). A pole-sitter is a spacecraft that is constantly above one of the Earth's poles, by means of a continuous thrust. Optimal orbits, that minimize propellant mass consumption, are found both through a shape-based approach, and solving an optimal control problem, using a direct method based on pseudo-spectral techniques. Both the pure SEP case and the hybrid case are investigated and compared. It is found that the hybrid spacecraft allows consistent savings on propellant mass fraction. Finally, is it shown that for sufficiently long missions (more than 8 years), a hybrid spacecraft, based on mid-term technology, enables a consistent reduction in the launch mass for a given payload, with respect to a pure SEP spacecraft.