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Hybrid propulsion transfers to the Moon

Mingotti, Giorgio and Topputo, Francesco and Bernelli-Zazzara, Franco (2012) Hybrid propulsion transfers to the Moon. In: Advances in the Astronautical Sciences. Advances in Astronautical Sciences, 145 . Univelt Inc, pp. 205-214. ISBN 978-0-87703-587-9

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Abstract

This work analyzes special Earth–Moon transfers that make use of both chemical and solar electric propulsion. A first high-thrust, low-Isp impulse is used to place the spacecraft into an exterior-like low-energy transfer to the Moon, possibly performing a lunar gravity assist. The subsequent use of low-thrust, high-Isp propulsion makes it possible to perform a lunar ballistic capture leading to a final, low-altitude orbit about the Moon. Hybrid propulsion transfers outperform both the chemical transfers (Hohmann, interior, and exterior) and the fully solar electric propulsion transfers (e.g., SMART-1-like) in terms of propellant consumption, although an assessment of these transfers at system level is still missing.