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Old 01-20-2018, 12:08 PM   #31
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Heh - I happened to stumble across a treasure-trove (of course I knew in theory of such things, but, well, hands on is always different).

I couldn't resist trying to plan a trajectory to the Moon once it was in-sim, and stumbled upon the whole zoo of low energy trajectory solutions.

If the spacecraft gets just nudged into the L1 Lagrange point region, the future trajectory can be altered with really tiny propellant usage - basically the vessel gets pulled towards the Moon, but by a tiny nudge this or that way, the closest distance can be controlled - which leads to vastly different swing-by scenarios - the craft can be deflected out of the orbital plane by 90 degrees, or set onto a retrograde orbit away from the Moon where it leaves its Hill sphere quickly - or deflected along the lunar orbit, where it gets de-celerated by the Moon following it and relatively easily ends up in a closed orbit via a small deceleration burn (for comparison, a Hohmann arrival burn at lunar orbit takes 590 m/s, my cheapest capture into an elliptic orbit was around 150 m/s (there's probably even cheaper solutions - I didn't run the simulation for too long, so I wanted to see periodicity soon).

At the same time, there's a series of marginal orbits where the craft goes around the Moon a few times, but then the perturbations by Earth grow so much that it leaves lunar orbit again.

I'm still struggling to get a good visualization of what is happening - plotting trajectories in 3d space easily leads to a lot of Spaghetti. But this is terribly good fun to explore.

(Sorry to those who already know this stuff to sound over-excited...)
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