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Do orbit design/mission analysis have equivalent documentation to the Preliminary/Critical Design Reviews you would use in systems engineering?

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    $\begingroup$ It's likely different organizations would have different internal documentation procedures, but your question is open-ended. What kind of fact-based answer are you looking for, and what kind of verifiable sources might there be to back up such an answer? For deep space science missions there are usually if not always scholarly papers published, is that the kind of documentation you are asking about? $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 1:07
  • $\begingroup$ I agree the question is extremely broad. For a relatively conventional GEO mission there will still be a mission design study reporting into the usual system level milestones, it might look very similar to previous missions with only the launch choice and final longitude changing (actually that's plenty already). For a completely new EO/scence/xyz mission the orbital analysis is bound into trade studies on the primary mission objectives and is going to be iterated and studied extensively. It could be helpful to elaborate in the OP interest. $\endgroup$
    – Puffin
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 16:59
  • $\begingroup$ To elaborate a bit, I'm thinking there must be reports generated when potential orbits are simulated, so I'm wondering how many of them there would be and what they'd cover. I was hoping that someone who works in operations or knows someone who does would be able to shed some light on it. $\endgroup$
    – weasdown
    Commented Jul 27, 2017 at 7:41

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It depends on the requirements. The PDR/ CDR process is common to government projects. You can see stuff like Orion that had a CDR last year. I have also seen evidence for many commercial satellite services, like Orbcomm, Irridium, Globalstar, and no doubt many others.

As for the orbit itself, that is a small piece of the overall design, and is often done quite late in the process. A range of orbits will be proposed from the initial request usually, but the specific orbit will only be done a few months before the rocket launches.

As far as interplanetary trajectories, there will be one (Or a few) people picking such paths, and they will be reviewed by some group, but they won't have a full blown PDR/CDR. Those area large scale reviews that review a large program all at once. The trajectory or orbit might be a piece of those reviews, but they won't be the center of the views.

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    $\begingroup$ I'm pretty sure orbits that require multiple gravitational assists around planets including those that have dozens of satellites and/or rings are not done with the same cavalier last-minute approach. There must be all kinds of windows that have to line up, including avoiding any hand-offs between Deep Space Network sites during critical times. Even for Earth orbit missions there's thousands of satellites up there you don't want to hit, and many launches need to synchronize with other satellites; even the Moon's position is critical in some Earth orbit cases. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 15:02
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    $\begingroup$ I was more focused on Earth orbits, I would have used the word trajectory to plan out such more detailed maneuvers. Avoiding hitting satellites isn't as big of a concern as you would think, I suspect it makes a difference for Geostationary orbits, but it doesn't matter much for LEO. At least, not that I've seen. $\endgroup$
    – PearsonArtPhoto
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 15:14
  • $\begingroup$ OK I understand. Even the Voyagers are in hyperbolic "heliocentric" orbits, but ya to some, "orbit design" might connote "Earth orbit design". $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Commented Jul 26, 2017 at 15:19

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