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https://www.scribd.com/doc/101611420/Notes

12/09/2013

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Orbital Mechanics Course Notes

David J. WestpfahlProfessor of Astrophysics,New Mexico Institute of Mining and TechnologyMarch 31, 2011

2These are notes for a course in orbital mechanics catalogued as AerospaceEngineering 313 at New Mexico Tech and Aerospace Engineering 362 atNew Mexico State University. This course uses the text “Fundamentals of Astrodynamics” by R.R. Bate, D. D. Muller, and J. E. White, published byDover Publications, New York, copyright 1971. The notes do not follow thebook exclusively. Additional material is included when I believe that it isneeded for clarity, understanding, historical perspective, or personal whim.We will cover the material recommended by the authors for a one-semestercourse: all of Chapter 1, sections 2.1 to 2.7 and 2.13 to 2.15 of Chapter 2,all of Chapter 3, sections 4.1 to 4.5 of Chapter 4, and as much of Chapters6, 7, and 8 as time allows.

Purpose

The purpose of this course is to provide an introduction to orbital me-chanics. Students who complete the course successfully will be prepared toparticipate in basic space mission planning. By basic mission planning Imean the planning done with closed-form calculations and a calculator. Stu-dents will have to master additional material on numerical orbit calculationbefore they will be able to participate in detailed mission planning.There is a lot of unfamiliar material to be mastered in this course. Thisis one ﬁeld of human endeavor where engineering meets astronomy and ce-lestial mechanics, two ﬁelds not usually included in an engineering curricu-lum. Much of the material that is familiar to students of those disciplineswill be unfamiliar to engineers. Students are probably already familiar withNewton’s Laws and Newtonian gravity. These will be used to develop theparticular applications needed to describe orbits and orbital maneuvers.Space missions are expensive and risky, especially if people or living ani-mals are sent into space. Thus, it is important to check and recheck calcula-tions and assumptions. Computer programs are subject to the imperfectionsof the humans who write them. This, it becomes necessary to develop phys-ical insight into orbit calculations to have a sense of when a programmingbug is leading to inaccurate answers. We will spend time developing physicalintuition and understanding what it is.

Notation

Well I remember being a student and being frustrated by notation usedby printers of textbooks that was impossible to write by hand at note-takingspeed, and not used by the professor, anyway. Thus, I have tried to use

3notation that is consistent with the text, but also within my abilities to writeon the board and within the abilities of students to write in their notes. Someexamples follow.A scalar is written as an ordinary math symbol, as in

a

.A vector is written with an arrow above, as in

r

.A unit vector is written with a hat, as in ˆ

r

. If the unit vector is a basis vectorof a coordinate set it’s symbol is usually capitalized, as inˆ

I

.A matrix is written in a boldfaced capital letter and covered by a tilde, asin

˜D

. This is a compromise. The tilde is easy enough to write in notes oron the board, but boldface is not. The boldface is used to make the matrixinstantly recognizable in the notes, at the cost of inconsistency.The inverse of the same matrix is written as

˜D

−

1

.The transpose of a matrix is written in boldface with a tilde and a trailingsuperscript capital T, as in

˜D

T

.A triangle with vertices

A

,

B

, and

C

is named

ABC

. Its line segments arenamed

AB

,

BC

, and

CA

. Order does not matter, so

AB

and

BA

describethe same line segment. The angle between segments

AB

and

BC

is labeled

ABC

.These notes were made using the LaTeX math symbols of AMS TeX.Anyone who has posted hundreds of pages of LaTeX notes has probablydiscovered hundreds of typos and left undiscovered scores of others. I amno exception. If you discover typos please report them to me by email atdwestpfa@nmt.edu.D. J. W.Albuquerque, NMJanuary, 2011

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