Mission Architectures for Achieving 0.1-0.2c Velocities


R. B. Adams (2012), JBIS65, 261-263

Refcode: 2012.65.261
Keywords: Interstellar, trajectory, Oberth, mission, concept

This paper discusses options for achieving spacecraft velocities in the range of 0.1-0.2c. These velocities are desirable to enable missions to Sol’s closest stellar neighbours. Frequently a mission duration of 50 years is used, so that the project can be completed in the duration of a person’s career. Achieving these velocities is extremely difficult, and requires significant extrapolation of technologies from the current state of the art. Gravitational assist manoeuvres are of limited use in achieving the desired velocities. However the two-burn escape manoeuvre, also known as the Oberth manoeuvre has potential in easing the difficulty in achieving these velocities. This paper will explore the Oberth manoeuvre’s suitability in achieving these velocities. Also considered are calculations relating acceleration capability and achievable velocities after the Oberth manoeuvre. Finally illustrated is a mission concept that takes advantage of the Oberth manoeuvre and the close proximity to the sun to rapidly accelerate an interstellar spacecraft.