New Space and Tech

Project Lyra: Catching 1I/’Oumuamua Realistically with a Jupiter Encounter and Imminent Propulsion Options

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
February 19, 2023
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Project Lyra: Catching 1I/’Oumuamua Realistically with a Jupiter Encounter and Imminent Propulsion Options
Project Lyra Logo, Initiative for Interstellar Studies (i4is)

Any missions to catch 1I/’Oumuamua have the daunting challenge of generating higher hyperbolic excess speeds than the interstellar object’s own, i.e. > 26.3 kms−1 with respect to the Sun.

To accomplish this task using chemical propulsion, previous papers have investigated a Solar Oberth manoeuvre and alternatively a Jupiter Oberth, these options requiring a thrust from the chemical rocket at perihelion/perijove respectively, points at which the available velocity increment (ΔV) results in maximum augmentation of the kinetic energy of the spacecraft.

In this paper we unravel the specifics of a mission requiring a JOM or optionally a passive Jupiter encounter, i.e. with no thrust, the latter having so far not been addressed by Project Lyra. Whereas the previous papers were feasibility studies, this paper delves into what would be achievable with a Jupiter encounter (without any preceding gravitational assists from the inner planets), using currently available off-the-shelf solid and liquid rocket stages and assuming the NASA Space Launch System Block 2 can be deployed. Optimal Launch dates are found to lie in the years 2030, 2031 and 2032 with resulting mission durations of around 30-40 years, depending on the particular number and combination of stages exploited.

Payload masses to ‘Oumuamua of 860kg can readily be accomplished with a duration of 43 or so years, assuming a Centaur D and STAR 48B combination, the latter booster being ignited at perijove. On the other hand if two Centaur Ds are utilised instead of just one, retaining the STAR 48BV for the JOM, 35 years are evinced for the same mass. Furthermore, for lower payloads of ∼100kg, the flight duration can be cut accordingly to 31 years, with the additional benefit of requiring no burn at Jupiter.

Adam Hibberd

Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2302.07659 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:2302.07659v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Adam Hibberd
[v1] Wed, 15 Feb 2023 13:44:29 UTC (1,270 KB)

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