What kind of transfer orbit will MAVEN follow?

If it is a Hohmann Transfer Orbit which will be effective only when the launch point and destination of spacecraft are in straight line. Earth is its launch point and if Mars is to be the destination point it will happen once in few days or years so that the Earth and Mars will be in suitable position.

If MAVEN misses its launch (as planned by NASA) because of the shut down of the government, when will Earth and Mars align in a suitable position again so that it can be transferred to Mars orbit by a Hohmann transfer orbit ? source:Wikipedia


Most missions to other planets, in particular Mars and Venus, use Hohmann transfer orbits, or something akin to it. The perfect Hohmann transfer orbit has an instantaneous point of time where it needs to be launched, in reality, there is sufficient fuel to use another orbit that is very close to the perfect Hohmann orbit for a period of a few weeks. Specifically, MAVEN has a launch window of 3 weeks, starting November 18. If the government is shut down for only a week, then it probably won't make a difference, but there could be a significant difference in the ability to launch if it takes longer than that.

Okay, so what would happen if the window is missed entirely? Well, the next opportunity to get to Mars is 26 months later, due to the geometry of the planets. The ideal launch window happens every 26 months or so. Bottom line is, if it doesn't launch this year, we have to wait until mid 2016 to launch, with added expense of keeping the satellite in storage, and taking it from its near launch configuration to the stored mode.


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