CAPSTONE mission

BrianJ

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I've just been having a look at NASA's "CAPSTONE" mission:
  • Pathfinder for Artemis
  • Going to Lunar NRHO
  • Launched on Rocketlab's "Electron", multiple Apogee raising burns from LEO
  • Ballistic trajectory to Lunar NRHO via Earth-Sun L1 area.

Quite a navigation challenge for Orbiter!

We already have Crisbeta's "Electron" add-on:

Some CAPSTONE infos:

Electron pdf:

Youtube vid:
 

kalral

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@BrianJ That is indeed a quite challenging project, I wish you good luck. I heard someone did it using Principia in KSP, few months before, but I am not sure about the NRHO part. I am quite interested to see your methodology of using IMFD for this task.
 
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BrianJ

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@BrianJ That is indeed a quite challenging project, I wish you good luck. I heard someone did it using Principia in KSP, few months before, but I am not sure about the NRHO part. I am quite interested to see your methodology of using IMFD for this task.
I hope I have the time to give it a try! The question is, as ever, "can the mission be replicated in Orbiter without NASA's sophisticated planning tools?" I wonder if GMAT might be useful? Otherwise IMFD Map and LagrangeMFD will probably be my choice of MFDs.

One thing that encourages me is that if one can get to the L1 area, then it requires only small dV to get on a useful trajectory (for Lunar intercept in this case).

Some more info about Capstone:

Cheers,
Brian
 

kuddel

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This is a really fascinating mission (trajectory-planning-and-using-suns-gravity-influence-wise). Why did I not yet know about this?
Thanks for bringing it up Brian!

...These are the moments I thank the universe for letting me know this forum :D
 

BrianJ

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Hi,
I've just been making a start on simulating the CAPSTONE launch in Orbiter.
Using crisbeta's "Electron" launcher add-on with an additional "Photon" 3rd stage.
The Electron can put the Photon+Capstone into 250km LEO, but from there another ~2500 m/s dV is required to get out to the Earth-Sun L1 area.
The only info I have about "Photon" stage is "50kg wet mass".
The couple of photos and diagrams I have seen indicate 4 x 0.5m diameter spheres for propellant (Hydrazine) storage.
That equates to ~30kg propellant (being generous), so 20kg dry mass, plus 27kg for Capstone.
If I use an ISP of 3200Ns/kg for the engine, that gives ~1600m/s dV capability - a shortfall of 900m/s dV.
I have to use 35kg propellant, 15kg dry mass, ISP 4200Ns/kg, to get the required 2500m/s dV.
This seems rather optimistic to me, but hey "what do I know!" ;-)

I just wondered if anyone has any thoughts or info about Rocket Lab's "Photon" stage?
Cheers,
Brian
 

cosmonaut2040

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Hi Brian,

the "50kg wet mass" likely refers to the small "Photon LEO", as it is based on the "kick stage", which is 40 kg dry per the Payload user guide.

The "Photon interplanetary" version must be significantly heavier. Also, it is likely bipropellant.

Assuming 4 x 0.5m diameter tanks (= 0.262 m^3) and MMH+NTO propellants (ISP = 3347 m/s, average density 1190 kg/m^3 per wikipedia) one gets ~312 kg for the propellant.

The total mass is more than Electron can lift to LEO, so it will need to do more than just the 2500 m/s delta v. If I guess e.g. 1000 m/s extra to reach LEO, I get 169 kg for structure+payload which seems reasonable. It's Friday late and I'm quite tired so I don't guarantee that I didn't make some mistake in my calculation :)

Cheers

1648846070228.png
 

BrianJ

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Ah! Thanks so much :)
I'm only one decimal place out on my sphere volume calculations :rolleyes:
Those numbers make much more sense.
Cheers,
Brian
 

BrianJ

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Hi,
after testing in Orbiter, it seems that 481kg is more than the Electron can lift to anywhere near orbit.
This made me take another look at the diagram of the Photon stage and reassess the propellant sphere size, which I think I over-estimated.

[Off-topic]
This led me to wonder - what is the maximum size (radius r)for 4 equal spheres packed horizontally in a cylinder of radius R, and just touching the cylinder wall? A rough sketch helped me realise: r = R * sin(45deg) / (1 + sin(45deg))
And in fact, for n spheres, it generalises to: r = R * sin(Pi/n) / (1 + sin(Pi/n))
Although it doesn't work for n = 0 or 1
I don't know why my brain likes to think about these things, really.....
[/Off-topic]

The Electron is only 1.2m diameter, and leaving a bit of room for the fairing means the Photon stage is about 1m diameter.
So the propellant spheres must be ~ 0.2m radius max.

So at the moment, I have given the Photon stage 158kg propellant , ISP 3347Ns/kg , 55kg dry mass (+27kg for Capstone), and a 500N main engine.
Thats 240kg for fully fuelled Photon+Capstone, and leaves enough dV to get to Sun-Earth L1 after LEO insertion (provided you do multiple burns around perigee to keep the burn efficiency up).

I wonder if that's anywhere near reality?
Cheers,
Brian
 

cosmonaut2040

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In the absence of actual data from Rocketlab, your numbers seem quite plausible. (y)

And the fact that you even derived an equation for the r gives your analysis extra credibility in my opinion :)

Cheers
 

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I have planned to create Gateway scenarios with the Gateway at NRHO. However, as simulating NRHO is itself challenging, I will wait for the CAPSTONE add-on to be released. Until then, I will use the LRO orbit for the Gateway.
 

BrianJ

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I have planned to create Gateway scenarios with the Gateway at NRHO. However, as simulating NRHO is itself challenging, I will wait for the CAPSTONE add-on to be released. Until then, I will use the LRO orbit for the Gateway.
Hi,
I thought it would not be so hard to set up a NRHO orbit using ScenarioEditor and LagrangeMFD, but I have had no success so far. The characteristics of Capstone NRHO being ~ an orbit of 1500km x 70000km alt, perilune over North Pole, orbital plane roughly perpendicular to Earth-Moon line. And importantly it maintains orbital plane relative to Earth-Moon line.
Using LagrangeMFD "rotating frame" display should show this clearly, I think.
But as I said, I have had no success so far.
Cheers,
Brian
 

BrianJ

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Hi,
I put my "Capstone" add-on package up on OHM:

Includes Capstone spacecraft, Photon 3rd stage for Electron, launch scenario from LC-1 Mahia, etc.

Maybe someone else will have more success setting up a NRHO in Orbiter - I have not been able to find anything that works.
The WSB transfer to the Moon from LEO is quite fun and challenging. I included a few screenshots from my last attempt in case it's useful to anyone.

Cheers,
Brian
 
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