Nov 6 – 9, 2018
DLR Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany
Europe/Amsterdam timezone

Visual Orbit design using the open-source VOD tool

Not scheduled
Building 124

Building 124

Oral presentation at the conference 11: Open Source Tools and Smart Computing Open Source Tools and Smart Computing #1


Robin Biesbroek (ESA)


While modern trajectory calculation and optimization tools are very effective, sometimes it is still useful to manually find an orbit for e.g. a necessary initial guess, or simply in order to understand the size and shape of the orbit.

A simple Visual Orbit Design (VOD) tool was created that allows changing orbit parameters such as apogee, perigee, delta-V given at a point, etc. while immediately seeing the result of the change within a 3D visualization tool. A slide-bar allows changing the time to see if a target such as the Moon is reached or not. The human brain, fed by a clear 3D overview, is very quick in understanding what changes need to be applied to achieve convergence.

Some examples of complex trajectories such as a Weak Stability Boundary transfer to the Moon and a Halo orbit are shown. It is shown that by 1) proper preparation of the trajectory, e.g. where/when to give a delta-V, when to stop a propagation, and 2) the correct selection of the view, and 3) the correct parameters to be changed, these complex trajectories can be found in a simple way.

The tool is open source and is shown as an HTML based use interface within the Systems Tool Kit tool


Using the human brain and good 3D visualization, complex orbits can be found quickly using a simple Visual Orbit Design tool, and proper understanding of the orbit concept and an optimal view to show the orbit.

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