On properties of the Hohmann transfer
Master of Science
In this work, we present a complete study of the Hohmann transfer maneuver between two circular coplanar orbits. After revisiting its known properties, we present a number of supplementary properties which are essential to the qualitative understanding of the maneuver. Specifically, along a Hohmann transfer trajectory, there exists a point where the path inclination is maximum: this point occurs at midradius and is such that the spacecraft velocity equals the local circular velocity. This implies that, in a Hohmann transfer, the spacecraft velocity is equal to the local circular velocity three times: before departure, at midradius, and after arrival. In turn, this allows the subdivision of the Hohmann transfer trajectory into a region where the velocity is subcircular and a region where the velocity is supercircular, with the transition from one region to another occurring at midradius. Also, we present a simple analytical proof of the optimality of the Hohmann transfer and complement it with a numerical study via the sequential gradient-restoration algorithm. Finally, as an application, we present a numerical study of the transfer of a spacecraft from the Earth orbit around the Sun to another planetary orbit around the Sun for both the case of an ascending transfer (orbits of Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) and the case of a descending transfer (orbits of Mercury and Venus).