# Amount of aerobraking to minimize Delta-V

Say a spacecraft is arriving at Saturn, can aerobrake arbitrarily, and wishes to arrive at Hyperion. How much should it aerobrake (i.e. what should the SMA be after aerocapture) to minimize the Delta-V required afterwards?

I initially had the spacecraft aerobrake until its apochron matches Hyperion's SMA, but it takes over 3,600 m/s of Delta-V to match Hyperion's velocity. I realized that aerobraking was reducing my kinetic energy by so much, I had to increase it afterwards to match velocity with Hyperion. However, if I barely brake enough to capture (apochrone reaches out to Phoebe), the burns raising perichrone and matching velocity with Hyperion total to under 2,400 m/s.

So, my question is, how much should I aerobrake (i.e. what should the SMA be after aerocapture) to minimize the Delta-V needed to intercept Hyperion? I think it's likely between my two extremes, and I have a feeling it should be Hyperion's SMA, but that's just intuition.

For reference, Hyperion's SMA is 1,481,009 km and its orbital velocity is 5,060.8 m/s, Saturn's equatorial radius is 60,268 km, and there's a handy vis-viva solver here. I'm positive this has lots of similarities to a bi-elliptic transfer orbit, with the exception that the first 'burn' is free.

• Matching Hyperion's SMA seems like an intriguing hypothesis. I'm a filthy empiricist; have you tried bracketing that with e.g. 90% and 110% of Hyperion SMA and seeing if that's a local optimum? Jun 24, 2017 at 2:33
• @RussellBorogove Strangely, this does not appear to be the answer, since aerobraking to Hyperion SMA ends up requiring slightly over 3 km/s. It appears that, despite my earlier doubts, the less you aerobrake, the less delta-V you require. Jun 24, 2017 at 14:22