Sending a Spacecraft to Interstellar Comet 2I/BorisovOPEN ACCESS 

Adam Hibberd, Nikolaos Perakis, Andreas M. Hein


Preprint submitted to Acta Astronautica
Submitted on 13 Sep 2019 (v1), last revised 4 Nov 2021 (this version, v3)

“In August 2019, a second interstellar object 2I/Borisov was discovered 2 years after the discovery of the first known interstellar object, 1I/’Oumuamua. Can we send a spacecraft to this object, using existing technologies? In this paper we assess the technical feasibility of a near-term mission to 2I/Borisov. We apply the Optimum Interplanetary Trajectory Software (OITS) tool to generate trajectories to 2I/Borisov. As results, we get the minimal ΔV trajectory with a launch date in July 2018. For this trajectory, a Falcon Heavy launcher could have hauled an 8 ton spacecraft to 2I/Borisov. For a later launch date, results for a combined powered Jupiter flyby with a Solar Oberth maneuver are presented. For a launch in 2027, we could reach 2I/Borisov in 2052, using the Space Launch System (SLS), up-scaled Parker probe heat shield technology, and solid propulsion engines. Using a SLS a spacecraft with a mass of 765 kg could be sent to 2I/Borisov. A Falcon Heavy could deliver 202 kg to 2I/Borisov. Arrival times sooner than 2052 can potentially be achieved but with higher ΔV requirements and lower spacecraft payload masses. 2I/Borisov’s discovery shortly after the discovery of 1I/’Oumuamua implies that the next interstellar object might be discovered in the near future. The feasibility of a mission to both, 1I/’Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov using existing technologies indicates that missions to at least some future interstellar objects are feasible as well.”