Sean Patrick

Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Statler College of Engineering and Mineral Resources


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Committee Chair

Alfred Lynam

Committee Co-Chair

John Christian

Committee Member

Jason Gross


Triple-Satellite-aided-capture sequences use gravity-assists at three of Jupiter's four massive Galilean moons to reduce the DeltaV required to enter into Jupiter orbit. A triple-satellite-aided capture at Callisto, Ganymede, and Io is proposed to capture a SEP spacecraft into Jupiter orbit from an interplanetary Earth-Jupiter trajectory that employs low-thrust maneuvers. The principal advantage of this method is that it combines the ISP efficiency of ion propulsion with nearly impulsive but propellant-free gravity assists.;For this thesis, two main chapters are devoted to the exploration of low-thrust triple-flyby capture trajectories. Specifically, the design and optimization of these trajectories are explored heavily. The first chapter explores the design of two solar electric propulsion (SEP), low-thrust trajectories developed using the JPL's MALTO software. The two trajectories combined represent a full Earth to Jupiter capture split into a heliocentric Earth to Jupiter Sphere of Influence (SOI) trajectory and a Joviocentric capture trajectory. The Joviocentric trajectory makes use of gravity assist flybys of Callisto, Ganymede, and Io to capture into Jupiter orbit with a period of 106.3 days.;Following this, in chapter two, three more SEP low-thrust trajectories were developed based upon those in chapter one. These trajectories, devised using the high-fidelity Mystic software, also developed by JPL, improve upon the original trajectories developed in chapter one. Here, the developed trajectories are each three separate, full Earth to Jupiter capture orbits. As in chapter one, a Mars gravity assist is used to augment the heliocentric trajectories. Gravity-assist flybys of Callisto, Ganymede, and Io or Europa are used to capture into Jupiter Orbit. With between 89.8 and 137.2-day periods, the orbits developed in chapters one and two are shorter than most Jupiter capture orbits achieved using low-thrust propulsion techniques.;Finally, chapter 3 presents an original trajectory design for a Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) satellite constellation. The design was created for the 8th Global Trajectory Optimization Competition (GTOC8) in which participants are tasked with creating and optimizing low-thrust trajectories to place a series of three space craft into formation to map given radio sources.