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Category: Toolboxes

  • Lunar Helium-3 Return to the Earth

    Helium-3 is available in the regolith of the moon and is a possible fuel for advanced nuclear fusion reactors on Earth. It would be extracted from the lunar regolith, packaged and returned to Earth. One question is how to return the helium-3 to the Earth. One approach is to use aerodynamic braking to return the…

  • Toolboxes Version 2020.1 Now Available

    Over 80 new functions and scripts were added in Version 2020.1. Updates were made to dozens of existing functions to improve their performance and expand their applications. Built-in demos and default data structures were added to many more functions.  In the Spacecraft Control Toolbox, we added new tools for orbit control. The figure below shows…

  • Three-Burn Solutions for Very Large Inclination Change

    This is the second of two blog posts which introduce functionality from the Orbit Transfer Module of the Spacecraft Control Toolbox (SCT). The Orbit Transfer Module has lots of tools to allow you to numerically optimize the engine burns that a spacecraft needs to apply to go from some initial orbit to its target orbit,…

  • Hohmann Transfer, but Faster: Optimizing for fuel and elapsed time

    In this blog post, we are going to introduce you to functionality found in the Orbit Transfer Module of our Spacecraft Control Toolbox. The Orbit Transfer Module has lots of tools to allow you to numerically optimize the engine burns that a spacecraft needs to apply to go from some initial orbit to its target…

  • Asteroids

    Yes, that is the name of the very famous computer game. In our last blog post we talked about optical navigation for lunar missions. Optical navigation is also very valuable for asteroid missions. It is being used today on OSIRIS-REx. The system we developed can be used anywhere in the solar system without, hopefully, too…

  • Optical Navigation to the Moon

    There is great interest in lunar missions. The U.S. plans to land astronauts on the moon in this decade. Several commercial companies are working on landers. Many other national space programs are working on their own landers and rovers. As with all spacecraft, you need to know where you are. The traditional way is to…

  • Rendezvous Made Simple

    In the “good old days” the only people worried about rendezvous were those designed space missions with crews. ISS established the need for robotic rendezvous and docking on a regular basis. Orbit dynamics can be complex. If you are looking at rendezvous with any other spacecraft in a very different orbit you can start with…

  • Flying Near the ISS

    Many small satellites are launched from the ISS or near the ISS by one of the transfer vehicles. A new function in the Spacecraft Control Toolbox 2020.1, coming in May, allows you to visualize your spacecraft near the ISS. Here is an example. You can also display a trajectory.

  • Easy Low Thrust Orbit Raising

    It is sometimes necessary to change your orbit semi-major axis, ascending node and inclination with a low-thrust engine. It is easy to do, as long as you can point your engine along orbit normal and tangential to the orbit. It is easiest to see how this is done by looking at the Gauss’ Variational equations,…

  • Going to Mars with Direct Fusion Drive

    We developed a round trip mission to Mars using Direct Fusion Drive. Key parameters are: Specific power of 1.2 kW/kg Exhaust velocity of 110 km/s 40 MW engine Payload of 55 MT out, 40 MT return Outward leg 128 days Inward leg 110 days Stay on Mars 650 days The following plot shows the trajectory.…