Dr Ryne Beeson, Senior Scientist at CU Aerospace, shares new and enabling capabilities optimising the design of spacecraft trajectories to achieve mission objectives.
The advent of new space technology, the greater coupling of space systems, and more frequent access to space has given rise to new challenges and opportunities for space mission design. Low-thrust propulsion has reached technology maturation and is being flown onboard small satellites and large spacecraft for orbit raising and correction manoeuvres in Earth orbits, on missions in the Cislunar realm (see Fig. 1), as well as interplanetary discovery missions. The miniaturisation of electronics, improvements of onboard computers, sensors, communications, and onboard software enabling more autonomy of spacecraft also means that smaller satellites and spacecraft are capable of more, and can be developed, tested, and launched on shorter timelines, and for less cost than before.
More frequent access to space through a greater number of launch providers, and at reduced costs, further encourages an appetite for increased mission risk with a reduction in mission development timeline and costs. Together, these elements create new pressure on the traditional process for designing spacecraft trajectories to achieve mission objectives.
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