Aerobraking tethers for the exploration of the solar system

  • Longuski J
  • Puig-Suari J
  • Mechalas J
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In previous work the authors developed a model for the analysis of orbiting tethered spacecraft in an atmosphere. This model was used to demonstrate the feasibility of the aerobraking tether concept for a mission to Mars. The present work studies the possibility of using such vehicles in the exploration of the other atmosphere-bearing planets and satellites in the solar system. This includes Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Titan. After establishing ground rules, a study is performed in which the propellant mass for a typical rocket propulsion system is compared to the tether mass required for the aerobraking system. In every case, the tether mass turns out to be less than the propellant mass. The results have significant implications for the design of a new class of exotic spacecraft for the exploration of the solar system. © 1995.

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  • J. M. Longuski

  • J. Puig-Suari

  • J. Mechalas

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