Combined high and low-thrust geostationary orbit insertion with radiation constraint

Macdonald, Malcolm and Owens, Steven Robert (2018) Combined high and low-thrust geostationary orbit insertion with radiation constraint. Acta Astronautica, 142. pp. 1-9. ISSN 0094-5765 (

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The sequential use of an electric propulsion system is considered in combination with a high-thrust propulsion system for application to the propellant-optimal Geostationary Orbit insertion problem, whilst considering both temporal and radiation flux constraints. Such usage is found to offer a combined propellant mass saving when compared with an equivalent high-thrust only transfer. This propellant mass saving is seen to increase as the allowable transfer duration is increased, and as the thrust from the low-thrust system is increased, assuming constant specific impulse. It was found that the required plane change maneuver is most propellant-efficiently performed by the high-thrust system. The propellant optimal trajectory incurs a significantly increased electron flux when compared to an equivalent high-thrust only transfer. However, the electron flux can be reduced to a similar order of magnitude by increasing the high-thrust propellant consumption, whilst still delivering an improved mass fraction.