Questions tagged [orbital-mechanics]

Orbital mechanics or astrodynamics is the application of ballistics and celestial mechanics to the practical problems concerning the motion of rockets and other spacecraft. For the movements of celestial bodies, see [celestial-mechanics].

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Interpolating precise ephemerides of GPS satellites

My objective is to obtain at least a sub-meter position accuracy by interpolation of the GPS ephemerides. There is conflicting research outside, where some authors state that a simple Lagrange or ...
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How long does the SYLDA fairing stay in orbit after deploying?

For dual-manifest missions, Ariane 5 often uses the Système de Lancement Double or SYLDA system to encapsulate the lower of two stacked satellites. It can be seen in the following image encapsulating ...
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Is there a general relativistic relativistic rocket equation?

I am not to familiar with rocket equations but I know that if you combine special relativity with classical mechanics you get "c" as a speed limit. Basically the closer you get to "c" the more you ...
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For the mathematical relationship between J2 (km^5/s^2) and dimensionless J2 - which one is derived from the other?

The term $J_2$ seen in discussions of nodal precession of orbits (e.g. sun-synchronous) appears to come in two flavors. For example, in the Wikipedia article Geopotential model it has a value of $1....
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Understanding formula for geocentric position of Moon

I am trying to understand a basic formula in a Celestial Mechanics reference. The formula is for the position of the Moon in a geocentric frame. The reference claims in line (981) that this should be ...
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How can I plot satellite's trajectory from three different TLEs to detect any deviation on path with time?

I have obtained TLE information of a satellite from space-track.org for three different times. I am trying to study any deviation of the satellite trajectory from its usual path. Here I am comparing ...
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Algorithmic methods or techniques to find conjunctions in large ensembles of state vectors?

Suppose I wanted to answer the question Will Starman/Roadster pass particularly close to any asteroids in the next few years? or try to predict satellite conjunctions around Earth (e.g. Celestrak's ...
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Did Rosetta improve on models of non-gravitational effects on comet 67P's orbit?

Question: Since the presence of the Rosetta spacecraft near comet 67P allowed for a detailed mass measurement, extremely precise position and velocity determinations, and physcal measurement and ...
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Why (the heck) did Tianwan-1 insert into a low inclination orbit then execute a plane change from 11.8 to 86.9 degrees?

eoPortal's Tianwen-1 (China's first Mars Exploration Mission) shows the following graphic, caption and link. It's often discussed that orbital plane changes are like certain table wines in that they ...
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Who invented the sun-synchronous orbit?

I was explaining sun-synchronous orbits to a co-worker and he asked me who invented it and when. I could not find an answer on wikipedia or a quick google search, so I thought about asking here.
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What exactly is a solar gravity well manouver and in what cases would it be helpful?

In this answer to the gedankenexperiment question With current state of technology if we wanted how long would it take for newly launched probe to overtake Voyagers? I've seen the term "solar gravity ...
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Where can I find data on satellite orbits?

I'm an enthusiast who'd like access to satellite orbital data to simulate / plot trajectories of manmade satellites (of any kind) on my home computer. Where's the best place for me to find this kind ...
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Could a solar sail composed of smart glass stay near the L1 point of Venus?

From answers to this question i've learned that the Lagrangian L$_1$ point of Venus is not stable, despite the almost circular orbit of the planet and the fact that it has no moon. Nevertheless would ...
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Orbital insertion with “inertial parachute”?

Inspired by Is there any way to land a rover on the Moon without using any thrusters?, but off-topic as a solution as that question asks specifically about crumbling zones. The idea: A spacecraft ...
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Software for orbital sketches

I am looking for recommendations on software that can create orbit sketches such as the image below. Adding an informative sketch to an article can help readers better understand the idea. I am ...
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Is the Parker Solar Probe's semimajor axis being so close to that of Mercury's just coincidence? Does it help somehow?

Parker Solar Probe will end up in it's Sun-kissing orbit though a series of Venus flyby's, which roughly pins Parker's aphelion at Venus's semimajor axis or about 108 million km. Its final perihelion ...
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Outlier detection algorithm for orbit determination, how do different ones compare?

I have been reading about outlier detection algorithm for improving determinations based on realistic data. Outlier exclusion is an important tool in any analysis of realistic noisy data. There are ...
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Were the Apollo lunar ALSEP transmitter signals ever analyzed or used after the experiments were shut down?

This answer to the question Why were the “perfectly functioning” seismometers placed by Apollo 12, 14, 15 and 16 astronauts all shut off in 1977? links to a NASA News Release No: 77-47 dated September ...
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Small-bodies landing strategies

Looking at past landing missions on small bodies such as Eros, Itokawa and 67P I found different landing strategies Eros: NEAR Shoemaker probe performed 4 impulsive pre-planned open-loop maneuvers to ...
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Locally optimal control for low thrust transfers with J2 and other Earth perturbations

Background As detailed in this answer low thrust optimization is subject of ongoing research. There are a few closed-loop control laws which allow to achieve a locally optimal (but close to globally ...
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Solutions to a “Lambert's problem in velocity”

Lambert's problem (also here and here): $$\mathbf{r_1}, \mathbf{r_2}, t \rightarrow \mathbf{v_1}, \mathbf{v_2}$$ was solved by Johann Heinrich Lambert via Lambert's Theorem (see references below). ...
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How to calculate if a co-location intercept is possible in a ballistic counter-battery scenario

Let us presume that we have a scenario with ballistic objects. As an example, one object $m_1$ is launched at time $t_0$ from Earth Location $a$ towards Earth Location $b$, both of which are in the ...
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Just how much “dumb luck” was reaching the space age during the “Grand Tour” opportunity? Would we have been SOL 1050 or 2100 years before/after?

@OscarLanzi's answer to Why is the gas giant grand tour interval 175 years when the synodic period of Uranus and Neptune is 171 years? is an excellent answer describing a subtle situation; each pair ...
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How many burns does it take to reboost the ISS?

When the International Space Station is given a reboost, how many burns are performed? Is it a Hohmann transfer orbit, with one perigee burn and one apogee burn? Or is it one burn at apogee just to ...
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Setting up orbit propagation in Orekit

Please forgive my ignorance, I'm new to orbital dynamics. I am using Orekit [https://www.orekit.org/] for orbital propagation in order to determine rise and set times for a MEO satellite, and am ...
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Largest single burn spacecraft delta-v in deep space?

This 700 m/s maneuver that was avoided got me thinking and then CNN's NASA mission will zoom by asteroid before returning sample to Earth said: "Leaving Bennu's vicinity in May puts us in the '...
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What is the closest polar lunar orbit that can be sustained? What are the limiting factors on closest approach?

I'm wondering how close a lunar orbit can get at periapsis to the south pole. I want an orbit that is sustainable for at least ~20 orbits. I'm working on a small sat concept for studying the lunar ...
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How to get lunar L, B, C parameters from the Moon's 3x3 rotation matrix from the Python package Skyfield?

Answers to What are the “Moon L, B, C” angles shown in this solar eclipse simulation? explain that L and B (or "l" and "b") are the "selenographic coordinates of the Moon's apparent center" (latitude ...
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How much harder would space exploration be if the Earth rotated like Uranus does?

Let's say the Earth got knocked a bit silly in the distant past and somehow space-loving life evolved on this planet. They roll around on an Earth with an axial tilt of 98°. How much harder is it for ...
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Solar system galactic velocity vector relative to ecliptic plane

The Solar system moves through the Milky Way galaxy with velocity of 230 km/s. The ecliptic plane is located ~60 degrees with relation to the galaxy plane, according to this source. The page also ...
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What is known about the trajectory of J002E3 (Saturn V IV-B stage of Apollo 12)?

This answer taught me about J002E3, an object detected in Earth orbit in 2002 that is assumed to be the Saturn V IV-B stage from Apollo 12. It's trajectory through space is fascinating: (source) ...
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Good example of early and simple orbital mechanics?

I am doing a talk on Katherine Johnson at my school extremely soon and I was wondering if you could give a relatively quick example of a simplified calculation in any kind of orbital mechanics ...
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Interplanetary Taxi Orbit

I would like to know the feasibility of an interplanetary "bus" or "taxi" which moves between, say, Earth-Mars or Earth-Venus without entering the orbit of either. The idea is that the taxi is large--...
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Just how record-setting was the launch-to-docking time of the April-4-2019 Progress resupply mission?

Digital Trend's article 3-plus-hour supply trip from Earth to International Space Station breaks record mentions that this was even faster than the typical "fast-track" Russian launch-to-docking time ...
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Proper handling of terminal guidance of finite burn closed-loop execution for rendezvous conditions?

I'm writing some software which uses Optimal Control Theory / Calculus of Variations / Pontrayagin's Minimum Principle / Primer Vector Theory to do closed-loop execution of finite burns (in KSP). ...
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Why is DSCOVR in a Lissajous orbit? Wouldn't a halo orbit completely avoid the Sun exclusion zone?

Halo orbits are a sub-class of Lissajous orbits. See this answer for (much) more on that. DSCOVR's orbit will put it in it's Sun Exclusion Zone in about 2020 where the communications line of sight ...
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How to specify constraints for launch windows

I'm trying to learn trajectory design and optimization, and I'm struggling to understand how one determines the launch window using trajectory design programs. I know that my satellite's initial ...
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Variation in Earth's aphelion and perihelion

I see from Astropixels.com that Earth's aphelion and perihelion each vary by a little over 29,000 km, while the earth-moon barycenter wobble is about 4,000 km. Is Astropixels.com correct? Are Jupiter ...
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(How well) Did Juno provide any insight into the Flyby Anomaly?

I ran across an old BBC article titled Juno: The spacecraft putting sling theory to the test — Why a probe passing our planet on its way to Jupiter might end a decades-old mystery, and reveal ...
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Differential Equations for Rocket Launch in Polar Coordinates

I'm trying to understand the equations of motion for a rocket launched from earth, through the atmosphere, and into LEO. I found a set of ordinary differential equations which describe the motion of ...
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Resonances and the seven sisters recently discovered

In reference to the discovery of seven planets around Trappist-1, I'm just wondering if any of these planets are in an orbital resonance and if that is the case, what the implications for habitability ...
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extreme longevity of geostationary orbits

I was speculating that geostationary satellites could be around possibly for billions of years (i.e. much beyond the point where plate tectonics would have erased all traces of human civilization on ...
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How can we mine Near Earth Objects and clean space garbage?

After skimming this comment, I wonder if mechanisms are in progress to mine Near Earth Objects(NEOs), collect and recycle/dispose of space garbage.
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Alfonso Gonzalezs Orbital mechanics simulation

I basically copied all the code on Orbital Mechanics Series of Alfonso Gonzalez (because I really don't have any experience with coding, but would like to in the future) on Youtube (for a school ...
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How is satellite's footprint/coverage calculated?

I was using Orbitron - Satellite Tracking software the other day and I saw that clicking on any of the satellites, you will see their footprint (they are usually not-ideal circles, usually ellipses), ...
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Minimum delta V required to return a piece of metallic asteroid 16 Psyche to Earth?

Suppose somebody sent a rover to Psyche 16 and found massive concentrated deposits of platinum-group metals near the surface, and turned it into a 10 ton sphere of platinum/iridium/osmium/gold alloy ...
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How the B-Plane parameters are generally determined

Reading from this document, I am trying to simulate the New Horizons probe trajectory in GMAT and I am puzzled with how the authors of the original paper (by legendary mission designer Robert W. ...
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Second derivative of mean motion as indicator of deorbit

I noticed that the second derivative of mean motion (SDMM) is non-zero for only a small percentage of the NORAD catalog. All those objects I checked have reentered since the TLEs I was using were ...
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What is the sign of Earth's J2?

From Wikipedia's Geopotential model; The deviations of Earth's gravitational field from that of a homogeneous sphere and the question For the mathematical relationship between J2 (km^5/s^2) and ...
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Did Juno just do a plane change? If so, by how much?

There are several reports in the news that the Juno spacecraft executed a very long propulsive maneuver so that it wouldn't pass through Jupiter's shadow. Apparently it would be in dark so long that ...

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