Tech Briefs

Stable Satellite Orbits for Global Coverage of the Moon

A document proposes a constellation of spacecraft to be placed in orbit around the Moon to provide navigation and communication services with global coverage required for exploration of the Moon. There would be six spacecraft in inclined elliptical orbits: three in each of two orthogonal orbital planes, suggestive of a linked-chain configuration. The orbits have been chosen to (1) provide 99.999-percent global coverage for ten years and (2) to be stable under perturbation by Earth gravitation and solar-radiation pressure, so that no deterministic firing of thrusters would be needed to maintain the orbits. However, a minor amount of orbit control might be needed to correct for such unmodeled effects as outgassing of the spacecraft.

This work was done by Todd Ely of Caltech and Erica Lieb of ASRC for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. For further information, access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Mechanics category. NPO-42722

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