AAS Paper Review: Practical Methodologies For Low Delta-V Penalty, On-Time Departures To Arbitrary Interplanetary Destinations From A Medium-Inclination Low-Earth Orbit Depot3 Feb 2018, 08:28 UTC
I’d like to share a technical paper about propellant depots and interplanetary mission orbital dynamics that I helped co-author this past year, with the help of two of my astrogator friends1, Mike Loucks and John Carrico of Space Exploration Engineering and The Astrogators Guild blog.
By way of preface, this is a paper that Mike and I have been meaning to write for almost five years now2 as a rebuttal to some anti-LEO depot arguments that had started to come out back in the 2010 timeframe. You see, back when the FY2011 NASA Budget came out, those of us who had been advocating LEO propellant depots as a source-agnostic way of driving innovations in low-cost launch and Lunar/NEO ISRU thought we had finally won the day. Constellation had been cancelled. The president was proposing having NASA invest heavily in technology demonstrations for reducing to practice ideas like depots.
But then the idea of LEO depots started taking a lot of flack from many directions. Probably one of the most effective critiques of LEO propellant depots came from a NASA Flight Dynamics Office out of JSC who pointed out some orbital dynamics challenges of using LEO depots for doing interplanetary ...