Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training

Commitment 3 days, 7-8 hours a day.
Language English
User Ratings Average User Rating 4.8 See what learners said
Delivery Options Instructor-Led Onsite, Online, and Classroom Live


The present-day approach to selecting missions for solar system exploration is based largely on the price-performance ratio – getting the most for the least within an acceptable level of risk. Mission analysis plays an enormous role in this process as mission designs become ever more complex to qualify under the selection criteria currently being applied. The hugely successful Cassini mission to Saturn has set the bar for the level of complexity in mission design, but this distinction is temporal as the Messenger mission engages in its lengthy and circuitous path to its final destination in orbit about Mercury, preceded by several swingbys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury and major space burns.

As the tools and methodologies for the analysis of such missions are refined, increasingly elaborate mission designs are to be expected and demanded. This three-day course is designed to prepare engineers and technical management for the task of adequately planning and supporting the mission analysis function to successfully accomplish its role in a solar system exploration project. Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training also provides the background and direction needed for those interested in mission analysis to pursue their craft in an organized and expeditious manner.

  • 3 days of Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training with an expert instructor
  • Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Electronic Course Guide
  • Certificate of Completion
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee



Upon completing this Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course, learners will be able to meet these objectives:

  • What skills and capabilities are needed to successfully compete for exploration mission opportunities and associated subcontracts?
  • What innovative concepts exist to efficiently accomplish mission objectives and when to choose one concept over another?
  • What are the state-of-the-art methodologies for conducting mission analyses?
  • The importance of choosing or building the appropriate software at each stage of a study.
  • What software tools exist for performing analyses of various types of missions and what are the underlying limitations of their use?
  • Critical issues concerning the management of the mission analysis function. The information and techniques provided in this course will provide you with the basic understanding and underlying principles that are essential to successfully plan, manage and perform solar system exploration mission analysis studies.
  • We can adapt this Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course to your group’s background and work requirements at little to no added cost.
  • If you are familiar with some aspects of this Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course, we can omit or shorten their discussion.
  • We can adjust the emphasis placed on the various topics or build the Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course around the mix of technologies of interest to you (including technologies other than those included in this outline).
  • If your background is nontechnical, we can exclude the more technical topics, include the topics that may be of special interest to you (e.g., as a manager or policy-maker), and present the Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training course in a manner understandable to lay audiences.

The target audience for this Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course:

  • All

The knowledge and skills that a learner must have before attending this Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration course are:

  • N/A


  1. The Solar System Environment. Targets of exploration-sun, planets, natural satellites, asteroids, comets. Ephemerides of solar system bodies. Libration points.
  2. Building on Success. Historical exploration missions of significance. Current missions. The Discovery program. Impact of “smaller, cheaper, better” philosophy.
  3. Phases of Mission Analysis. Preliminary phase with an emphasis on speed and conceptualization. Later phase with an emphasis on accuracy and detail. The implication of tools and methodologies.
  4. Fundamentals of Heliocentric Orbit Transfers. Kepler’s Problem, Lambert’s Problem, and its solution. Type I and Type II transfers. Posigrade and retrograde trajectories. Multiple revolution trajectories. N-pi transfers.
  5. Multi-leg Missions. Linking trajectory legs to form missions. Correspondence between target-centered and heliocentric end conditions. Hyperbolic excess speed. The patched conic and matched (overlaid) asymptote models. Space burn maneuvers.
  6. Target Encounters. The planetary swingby. Tisserand’s criterion and graphical methods. B-plane targeting. Powered swingbys. Planetary orbit capture and escape. Asteroid/comet flyby and rendezvous. Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training
  7. Correlating Trajectory and Propulsion Requirements. Spacecraft mass models. Propulsion system models. The rocket equation. Impulsive velocity calculations. Estimating velocity losses resulting from finite burn effects. Reducing velocity losses.
  8. Concepts of Exploration Mission Design. Creating and using porkchop plots. The growing importance of planetary swingbys. Swingbys always reduce propulsion requirements, right? Uses of space burns. Single and repeated planetary swingbys. Uses of n-pi transfers, Nodal transfers. Building multiple-target missions. Implications of human space flight on mission design.
  9. Trajectory and Mission Optimization. Direct versus indirect optimization methods. Formulating the problem. Dealing with convergence difficulties. Locally optimizing solutions.
  10. Case Study of a High Thrust Solar System Exploration Mission Analysis.
  11. Low-Thrust Mission Analysis and Optimization. Differences in analysis techniques compared to high-thrust missions. Methods of optimization. Commonly used software tools. Problem formulation using the Calculus of Variations.
  12. Power System Modeling. Representing array power output as a function of solar distance.
  13. Propulsion System Modeling. The classic model. Programmed modeling of representative ion thrusters (e.g. NSTAR, NEXT, etc). A proposed model based on a thruster operating envelope.
  14. Case Study of Solar Electric Propulsion Mission Design and Optimization.
Mission Analysis for Solar System Exploration TrainingMission Analysis for Solar System Exploration Training Course Wrap-Up


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