2021_MSThesis_Scheuerle.pdf (11.17 MB)

Construction of Ballistic Lunar Transfers in the Earth-Moon-Sun System

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posted on 07.05.2021, 18:03 by Stephen Scheuerle Jr.

An increasing interest in lunar exploration calls for low-cost techniques of reaching the Moon. Ballistic lunar transfers are long duration trajectories that leverage solar perturbations to reduce the multi-body energy of a spacecraft upon arrival into cislunar space. An investigation is conducted to explore methods of constructing ballistic lunar transfers. The techniques employ dynamical systems theory to leverage the underlying dynamical flow of the multi-body regime. Ballistic lunar transfers are governed by the gravitational influence of the Earth-Moon-Sun system; thus, multi-body gravity models are employed, i.e., the circular restricted three-body problem (CR3BP) and the bicircular restricted four-body problem (BCR4BP). The Sun-Earth CR3BP provides insight into the Sun’s effect on transfers near the Earth. The BCR4BP offers a coherent model for constructing end-to-end ballistic lunar transfers. Multiple techniques are employed to uncover ballistic transfers to conic and multi-body orbits in cislunar space. Initial conditions to deliver the spacecraft into various orbits emerge from Periapse Poincaré maps. From a chosen geometry, families of transfers from the Earth to conic orbits about the Moon are developed. Instantaneous equilibrium solutions in the BCR4BP provide an approximate for the theoretical minimum lunar orbit insertion costs, and are leveraged to create low-cost solutions. Trajectories to the L2 2:1 synodic resonant Lyapunov orbit, L2 2:1 synodic resonant Halo orbit, and the 3:1 synodic resonant Distant Retrograde Orbit (DRO) are investigated.


National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Grant No. 10001485.


Degree Type

Master of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics


Aeronautics and Astronautics

Campus location

West Lafayette

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Kathleen Howell

Additional Committee Member 2

Carolin Frueh

Additional Committee Member 3

James Longuski