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Developing mathematical theories of the physical world: Open Access research on fluid dynamics from Strathclyde

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Spacecraft planetary capture using gravity assist manoeuvres

Macdonald, M. and McInnes, C.R. (2005) Spacecraft planetary capture using gravity assist manoeuvres. Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 28 (2). pp. 365-369. ISSN 1533-3884

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If the arrival speed at a target body can be increased from the very low hyperbolic excesses required to perform a low-thrust capture maneuver, then potentially significant savings can be made in the heliocentric mission duration if a bound orbit about the target planet can be maintained. We define a bound orbit as having an apoapsis that is positive but less than infinity; however, because this is not a practical limit and is instead a theoretical limit we examine the impact of reducing the target apoapsis to more realistic and useful values within specific case studies. Furthermore, an increase in arrival velocity can be expected to yield a benefit in mission launch mass.