Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Stuart C. Kramer, PhD


Low thrust electric propulsion systems are becoming sufficiently mature to consider their use as primary propulsion for orbital transfer in place of high thrust chemical systems. Instead of facing an either/or situation, it may be advantageous to use both types. This effort demonstrates a technique for finding orbital transfer strategies that use both high and low thrust propulsion systems and which result in optimal tradeoffs of the performance parameters cost of orbit insertion, total orbit transfer time, and available spacecraft mass at final orbit. These performance parameters are calculated as a function of the fraction of orbit transfer from Low Earth Orbit (LEO) to Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) provided by electric propulsion. Utility analysis is used to analyze each performance parameter and compute a total utility score for each orbit insertion strategy examined. Results from a variety of example space mission profiles yielded optimal orbit insertion strategies requiring both chemical and electric propulsion to provide a fraction of the LEO to GEO orbit transfer.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number