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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    2017-2018 Undergraduate Team Space Transportation – Pluto Orbiter

    Pluto Orbiter

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    • Letter of Intent submitted via online submission site – 10 February 2018 (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time)
    • Proposal submitted via online submission site – 10 May 2018 (11:59 p.m. Eastern Time)
    • Announcement of Winners (via email) – 31 August 2018 (11:59 pm Eastern Time)


    The recent flyby of the Pluto-Charon system by New Horizons has shown a more dynamic system than was envisioned prior its initial exploration. Due complex terrain forms and atmospheric phenomena that were both directly observed and inferred from the available data, a longer term mission to study the dynamics of the Pluto-Charon system could be scientifically valuable, especially as the system progresses on its orbit further from the Sun. Basing the instrumentation load on New Horizons (updated to current norms), utilize available literature on launch vehicle performance, trajectories and TRL 6 or higher in-space propulsion systems to design a spacecraft and mission that can achieve orbital insertion into the Pluto-Charon system with a primary mission length of no more than 15 years.

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