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# Interplanetary

Transfer
A Simplified Example
A transfer from an orbit around a inner planet to
the orbit around an outer planet.

For example, to calculate the Av required to
launch a spacecraft from an orbit around the Earth
(let us take LEO of 300 km altitude) to an orbit
around the Mars.
Hohmann Transfer (from earth to Mars)
se
V
( )
sp
e
V t
( )
sp
m
V t
sm
V
Departure from Earth
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)
Here = The velocity of the space probe
relative to the sun at the time of escaping earth (ie.)
velocity of the space probe on the transfer ellipse at
the departure point D (perihelion in the heliocentric
orbit).

= the circular orbital speed of the planet 1
(here, the Earth) relative to the sun.

Here | | always > | |.

( )
sp
e
V t
se
V
( )
sp
e
V t
se
V
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)
Thus, by subtracting the known value of velocity
of the planet relative to the sun, one obtains the
hyperbolic excess speed on the earth escape
hyperbola.
Therefore, the required Av at D could be

( )
( )
2
1 2 1
2
1
sp se
D e
ep
e
R
v V t V
R R R
V t V

| |
A = =
|
|
+
\ .
=
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)

2.946 km/s --- Is it the launch speed of the space
probe at the orbit around the Earth?

( )
8
1 2
11 3 2
11
1
8
29.783 / 0.09891
1 1.496 10 , 1.524
1.327 10 /
2 1.524
1.327 10
1
1.496 10 1.524 1
2.946 /
sun
km s
R AU km R AU
km s
AU
v
AU AU
km s

= = =
=
| |
|

A =
|
+
|
|
\ .
=
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)
NO! --- It is the velocity of the space probe after
escape from Earth (after launching from the earth &
achieving a great distance from the earth). This
speed is called excess speed (not the escape speed).

Therefore, we have to find out what could be the
velocity of the space probe relative to earth at the
time of launch, , in order to achieve the
excess speed of 2.946 km/s at the point of exiting
the earths sphere of influence.
( )
2.946 /
e
V t km s

=
( )
ep
L
V t
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)
Conservation of specific energy to calculate the
launch speed, required to achieve excess
speed of 2.946 km/s.
( )
ep
L
V t
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
( )
2 2
2
2
3 2
1 1
2 2
1
0
2
2
398600.4418 / , 6378 300
11.3 /
ep ep
e e
L
ep
L
e
ep
e
L
ep
L
ep
e L
ep
L
V t V t
r t r
V
r
V t V
r t
km s r t km
V t km s

=
| |
= =
|
\ .
= +
= = +
=
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)

Therefore, at this point, the Av applied by the
thrusters would be 11.3 7.726 = 3.574 km/s.
( )
11.3 /
ep
L
V t km s =
6678km
7.726 / km s
Interplanetary Transfer (Departure)
Thus after applying the velocity change of 3.574
km/s to the original circular velocity of 7.726 km/s,
the spacecraft (or space probe) is travelling with
velocity 2.946 km/s relative to earth, or velocity of
32.7 km/s relative to the Sun.
Arrival at Mars
Arrival at Mars
Here = The velocity of the space probe
relative to the sun at the time of approaching mars
(ie.) velocity of the space probe on the transfer
ellipse at the arrival point A (aphelion in the
heliocentric orbit).

= the circular orbital speed of the planet 2
(here, the Mars) relative to the sun.

Here | | > | |.

( )
sp
m
V t
sm
V
sm
V
( )
sp
m
V t
Arrival at Mars
Therefore, the required Av at A could be

Plugging all the values in the above equation,

2.650 km/s.
( )
( )
1
2 2 1
2
1
sm sp
A m
mp
m
R
v V V t
R R R
V t V

| |
A = =
|
|
+
\ .
=
( )
m
V t

=
Arrival at Mars
Now the space probe is approaching Mars on a
hyperbolic trajectory from an infinite distance with
velocity of 2.650 km/s relative to Mars.

Arrival at Mars
Now, we have to find out what could be the
velocity of the space probe relative to Mars at the
time of reaching the orbit around the Mars ( ).

( )
mp
m
V t
( )
( )
( )
2
2
mp
mars
m m
mp
m
V t V t
r t

= +
3 2
42,823.3 /
3397
mars
km s
=
=
Arrival at Mars

Therefore, at this point, the Av applied by the
thrusters to slow down to orbit around Mars would
be km/s.
( )
mp
m
V t
2.650 / km s
( )
mp
m oM
V t V
Reference(s)
Howard D. Curtis, Orbital Mechanics for
Engineering Students, Elsevier Publications,
2005.

http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/finalprese
ntation/traj/hohman.html