End-of-life disposal trajectories for libration point and highly elliptical orbit missions

Colombo, Camilla and Lewis, Hugh and Letizia, Francesca and Vasile, Massimiliano and Vetrisano, Massimo and Van Der Weg, Willem Johan and McInnes, Colin and Macdonald, Malcolm and Alessi, Elisa Maria and Rossi, Alessandro and Dimare, Linda and Landgraf, Markus (2013) End-of-life disposal trajectories for libration point and highly elliptical orbit missions. In: 64th International Astronautical Congress 2013, 2013-09-23 - 2013-09-27.

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Libration Point Orbits (LPOs) and Highly EllipticalOrbits (HEOs) are often selected for astrophysics and solar terrestrial missions as they offer vantage points for the observation of the Earth, the Sun and the Universe. Orbits around L1and L2 are relatively inexpensive to be reached from the Earth and ensure a nearly constant geometry for observation and telecoms, in addition to advantages for thermal system design. On the other hand, HEOs about the Earth guarantee long dwelling times at an altitude outside the Earth’s radiation belt; therefore, long periods of uninterrupted scientific observation are possible with nearly no background noise from radiations. No guidelines currently exist for LPO and HEO missions’ end-of-life; however, as current and future missions are planned to be placed on these orbits, it is a critical aspect to clear these regions at the end of operations. Orbits about the Libration point or Earth-centred orbits with very high apogee lie in a highly perturbed environment due to the chaotic behaviour of the multi-body dynamics1; moreover, due to their challenging mission requirements, they are characterised by large-size spacecraft. Therefore, the uncontrolled s/c on manifold trajectories could re-enter to Earth or cross the protected regions. Finally, the end-of-life phase can enhance the science return of the mission and the operational knowledge base. In this paper, a detailed analysis of possible disposal strategies for LPO and HEO missions is presented as a result of an ESA/GSP study. End-of-life disposal options are proposed, which exploit the multi-body dynamics in the Earth environment and in the Sun–Earth system perturbed by the effects of solar radiation, the Earth potential and atmospheric drag. The options analysed are Earth re-entry, or injection into a graveyard orbit for HEOs, while spacecraft on LPOs can be disposed through an Earth re-entry, or can be injected onto trajectories towards a Moon impact, or towards the inner or the outer solar system, by means of delta-v manoeuvres or the enhancement of solar radiation pressure with some deployable light reflective surfaces. On the base of the operational cost, complexity and demanding delta-v manoeuvres, some disposal options were preliminary analysed and later discarded such as the HEO disposal through transfer to a LPO or disposal through Moon capture 2. The paper presents the dynamical models considered for each disposal design: in the case of HEOs the long term variation of the orbit is propagated through semi-analytical techniques 2, considering the interaction of the luni/solar perturbations with the zonal harmonics of the Earth’s gravity field. In the case of LPOs the Circular Restricted Three Body Problem 4 (CR3BP) or the full-body dynamics is employed for the Earth re-entry option and the transfer towards the inner or the outer solar system, while the coupled restricted three-body problem 5 is used for the Moon disposal option. The approach to design the transfer trajectories is presented. In order to perform a parametric study, different starting dates and conditions for the disposal are considered, while the manoeuvre is optimised considering the constraints on the available fuel at the end-of-life. Five ESA missions are selected as scenarios: Herschel, GAIA, SOHO as LPOs, and INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton as HEOs. For each mission the disposal strategies are analysed, in terms of optimal window for the disposal manoeuvre, manoeuvre sequences, time of flight and disposal characteristics, such as re-entry conditions or the hyperbolic excess velocity at arrival in case of a Moon impact. In a second step, a high accuracy approach is used for validating the optimised trajectories. Finally, a trade-off is made considering technical feasibility (in terms of the available on-board resources and ∆vrequirements), as well as the sustainability context and the collision probability in the protected regions. General recommendations will be drawn in terms of system requirements and mission planning.