Cislunar mission design for low-thrust smallsats

Vishwa Shah, Joshua Aurich, Ryne Beeson, Donald Ellison, Kaushik Ponnapalli

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The continued development of small satellite technology has expanded the menu of missions that these craft could potentially carry out to Lagrange points, the Moon, and even near Earth objects. Several small sats will be launched as secondary payloads on Explorer Mission 1 (EM-1) in 2018, and will explore different science objectives in the cislunar region. However, due to their limited power and propulsion capabilities as well as a high velocity release condition from EM-1, designing feasible solutions is a challenging task. In addition, launch conditions and spacecraft parameters have larger variability and change more often during the mission design and production phases in comparison to larger explorer and flagship type missions; driving the need for an efficient and robust automated tool set that enables rapid prototyping of mission concepts. In this paper, we apply a hybrid optimal control framework that leverages dynamical structures found in multi-body regimes to explore low-energy solutions to EM-1 small satellite type missions. The hybrid optimal control framework supports a flexible and automated approach that still allows full user guidance via appropriately formed objectives and constraints, while enabling a search of the design space in an intelligent manner that can yield non-intuitive results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationASTRODYNAMICS 2017
EditorsJohn H. Seago, Nathan J. Strange, Daniel J. Scheeres, Jeffrey S. Parker
PublisherUnivelt Inc.
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)9780877036456
StatePublished - 2018
Externally publishedYes
EventAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2017 - Stevenson, United States
Duration: Aug 20 2017Aug 24 2017

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


ConferenceAAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference, 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited States

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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