Preliminary Delta-V Analysis to Deploy a CubeSat Impactor from the Mothership During a Flight Inside the Lunar Sphere of Influence

Young Joo Song, Donghun Lee, Ho Jin, Yongjun Song

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The current work analyzes the delta-V characteristics to deploy a lunar CubeSat impactor for an early phase feasibility study. The lunar CubeSat impactor is assumed to ride on the mothership and be deployed to hit the lunar surface during a flight inside the lunar sphere of influence (SOI). Different combinations of the periselene approach altitude and velocity for the mothership are considered to cover different flight trajectory environments, and the relevant optimal control problem is formulated under two-body dynamics for an early stage analysis. The CubeSat deployment moment is also varied to observe the associated affects. As a result, the optimal delta-V magnitude and direction characteristics with respect to different deployment times are analyzed and discussed via an example impact trajectory. Earlier deployment is preferable in the current conceptual mission not only for conserving delta-V, but also from the point view of a real-world ground operational timeline. In terms of the final impact conditions observed, the strongest candidate science that can be accomplished with the proposed concept would be to measure the lunar magnetic anomalies during the impact phase. The proposed CubeSat deployment strategy could be a more reliable choice because it can be accomplished with a delta-V that is similar to that in previous work while minimizing the effects on the original design baseline of the mothership’s flight trajectory. Moreover, the proposed approach is applicable to any type of planetary mission, lander or orbiter and to any planet.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-289
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020


  • CubeSat
  • Lunar impactor mission
  • Optimal delta-V
  • Optimal trajectory
  • Piggyback ride


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