Encyclopedia Astronautica
1960.04.05 - Houbolt paper on rendezvous in space with minimum expenditure of fuel


John C. Houbolt of the Langley Research Center presented a paper at the National Aeronautical Meeting of the Society of Automotive Engineers in New York City in which the problems of rendezvous in space with the minimum expenditure of fuel were considered.

To resupply a space station, for example, the best solution appeared to be to launch the ferry rocket into an adjacent orbit. A minimum amount of fuel would then be needed to inject the ferry rocket into the same orbital plane as the space station. Attention was also focused on the wait time before a rendezvous launch.

If launch were made into the correct orbital plane, with subsequent lead or lag correction, wait periods of many days would be necessary, but if launch were made into an incorrect orbital plane with a later plane correction, wait periods of only a day or two would be feasible.

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