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Mathematical Problems in Engineering
Volume 2006, Article ID 34317, 20 pages

Alternative paths to Earth-Moon transfer

1Programa de Pós-graduação em Engenharia e Tecnologia Espaciais, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE), São José dos Campos, SP 12245-970, Brazil
2Grupo de Dinâmica Orbital & Planetologia, Universidade Estadual Paulista (UNESP), Campus Guaratinguetá, Guaratinguetá, SP 12516-410, Brazil

Received 28 December 2004; Revised 27 July 2005; Accepted 23 August 2005

Copyright © 2006 Cristiano Fiorilo de Melo and Othon Cabo Winter. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The planar, circular, restricted three-body problem predicts the existence of periodic orbits around the Lagrangian equilibrium point L1. Considering the Earth-lunar-probe system, some of these orbits pass very close to the surfaces of the Earth and the Moon. These characteristics make it possible for these orbits, in spite of their instability, to be used in transfer maneuvers between Earth and lunar parking orbits. The main goal of this paper is to explore this scenario, adopting a more complex and realistic dynamical system, the four-body problem Sun-Earth-Moon-probe. We defined and investigated a set of paths, derived from the orbits around L1, which are capable of achieving transfer between low-altitude Earth (LEO) and lunar orbits, including high-inclination lunar orbits, at a low cost and with flight time between 13 and 15 days.