Virgin Orbit to launch Mars Sat

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JCRL

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Virgin Orbit and SatRevolution, a Polish cubesat manufacturer, have declared their intent to launch a 50kg cube sat from a Boeing 747 ... all the way to Mars! Still no details about how Virgin Orbit plans to get the cubesat into Mars orbit, but I have to assume it involves some slingshot maneuvers. It seems impossible on its face, but they must have a solid plan to make this announcement. It took Chandrayaan-2 two months to get to the moon on an under-powered rocket, so any guesses on how long it'll take to get this cubesat to get to Mars on a missile?

Article from Space: https://www.space.com/polish-mars-cubesat-mission-virgin-orbit.html
 

georgegassaway

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Probably using an ion thruster (or thrusters). They have very LOW thrust, but great efficiency. So the means of escaping Earth's gravity well would be, once in LEO, by doing dozens/hundreds of Oberth* burns at perigee, to raise the apogee little by little until the "apogee" becomes escape velocity. Possibly also a lunar slingshot. I figure the series of Oberth burns might take 2-3 months, either to reach escape velocity or to get close enough to the moon to slingshot. Once reaching escape velocity, the trip could be as little as 6 months if the positioning of Earth and Mars is good. So......probably reach Mars less than a year after launch.

* https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oberth_effect
 

davel

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But a 747 gets no where near "escaping Earth's gravity well". Would need some higher thrust motor to get to LEO.
 

davel

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But a 747 can carry something like Pegasus.
But then they are not launching a cube sat from a 747, they are launching it with a Pagasus. 'Suppose it depends on where the 'launcher' begins.
 

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