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Vladislav A. Zubko, Alexander A. Sukhanov
(Space Research Institute, Moscow)

Analysis of optimal flight schemes to Sedna

(V.A. Zubko, A.A. Sukhanov, K.S. Fedyaev, V.V. Koryanov, A.A. Belyaev)


This paper considers the search for flight schemes with minimal costs of the characteristic velocity to the trans-Neptunian object (90377) Sedna, which is probably the object of the inner region of the Oort Cloud. Due to the significant distance of this object from the Sun at perihelion, a direct flight to it would require a considerable cost of characteristic velocity, even with a duration of more than 100 years. In this work trajectories of a flight using gravity assist maneuvers near Venus, Earth (maneuver VEEGA = Venus + Earth + Earth Gravity Assists), Jupiter, Saturn and Neptune are analyzed in order to reduce the total cost of the characteristic velocity. Trajectories with the VEΔVEGA (Venus + Earth + ΔV + Earth) Gravity Assists maneuver were also investigated. The constraint was the time of flight, which could not exceed 50 years. The search for optimal trajectories was performed for launch dates between 2029 and 2037.

The schemes of flight to Sedna using gravity assist maneuvers near the Earth, Venus, Jupiter, and Neptune proved to be favorable. The study of trajectories of the Earth-Jupiter-Sedna flight scheme showed that even in this case, there are trajectories of passive flight (i.e., the flight which does not require additional impulses, except for the launch impulse on the low Earth orbit) that satisfy the duration constraint. Flight by schemes, including the maneuver Venus-Earth-Earth-Jupiter, makes it possible to achieve almost double reduction of the cost of the characteristic velocity compared with the maneuver only near Jupiter. The flight time in this case either will not change, or insignificantly increase.