BS in Aerospace Engineering
Aerospace Engineering Department
Interplanetary space travel is an extremely complicated endeavor that is severely limited by our current technological advancements. The amount of energy required to transport a spacecraft from one planet to the next, or even further, is extraordinary and in some cases is even impossible given our current propulsive capabilities. Due to these complications, the search for other means of exchanging energy became imperative to future space exploration missions. One particularly powerful method that was discovered, and the most commonly used one, is referred to as planetary gravity assist. In order to plan out multiple gravity assist trajectories, complex and robust computer simulations are required to filter through the continuum of possibilities and select trajectories that optimally satisfy the mission requirements. This paper discusses one such computer simulation which seeks to minimize the propulsive delta v requirements of a spacecraft for a trajectory between two specified planets utilizing a specified number of planetary flybys along the way.