Contingency and recovery options for the European Student Moon Orbiter

Willem Johan Van Der Weg, Massimiliano Vasile

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7 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents an overview of the analysis performed on the lunar orbit and some of the possible contingencies for the European Student Moon Orbiter (ESMO). Originally scheduled for launch in 2014–2015 as a piggyback payload, it was the only ESA planned mission to the Moon. By way of a weak stability boundary transfer, ESMO is inserted into an orbit around the Moon. Propellant use is at a premium, so the operational orbit is selected to be highly eccentric. In addition, an optimization is presented to achieve an orbit that is stable for 6 months without requiring orbit maintenance. A parameter study is undertaken to study the sensitivity of the lunar orbit insertion. A database of transfer solutions across 2014 and 2015 is used to study the relation between the
robustness of weak capture and the planetary geometry at lunar arrival. A number of example recovery scenarios, where the orbit insertion manoeuver partially or completely fails, are also considered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-183
JournalActa Astronautica
Issue number1
Early online date2 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


  • contingency
  • lunar mission
  • lunar orbit
  • weak stability boundary transfer
  • ballistic capture


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