Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Aerospace, Physics, and Space Sciences

First Advisor

Brian Kaplinger

Second Advisor

Andrew Aldrin

Third Advisor

Daniel Kirk

Fourth Advisor

Markus Wilde


This dissertation reveals several families of trajectories that can reduce the change in velocity(ΔV) required to transfer from trans-lunar injection (TLI) to a lunar polar circular orbit with 100 km altitude by up to 26.5% compared to conventional transfers. The primary hypothesis states that such trajectories, termed lunar polar ballistic capture (LPBC) transfers, exist for all lunar phases at the time of lunar departure (i.e., initial lunar flyby).The existence of LPBC transfers for all lunar phases can enable missions with ride-share restrictions (CubeSat), limited propellant capability (small spacecraft), and/or payloads that are not time sensitive (cargo).Evidence to support the primary hypothesis is provided by a procedure, created in STK Astrogator, equipped to handle the complex gravitational dynamics associated with LPBC transfers via an N-body dynamical model and Runge-Kutta numerical integrator. Other results of this dissertation include: 1) classification of LPBC transfers into families according to motion, proximity to Sun-Earth Lagrange points, and apogee quadrant location in the Sun-Earth rotating reference frame, 2) limitations of LPBC transfers and the procedure in practice, and 3) applications of LPBC transfers and the procedure to/from other orbits and planetary bodies including geosynchronous transfer orbit (GTO), geostationary orbit (GEO), a near-Earth asteroid (NEA),and Mars.