Near-Term, Low Cost Missions for Solar Sails


C.R. Mcinnes (2000), JBIS53, 48-61

Refcode: 2000.53.48

Solar sails have long been considered for a range of future mission applications. Most of these applications have been conventional missions where the solar sail is utilised primarily as a means of efficient, low thrust propulsion for orbit transfer. For this reason solar sailing has historically been neglected in favour of electric propulsion, which has seen considerable development in recent years. However, there are many high energy missions which are either enabled by solar sailing or can be achieved at lower cost than with electric or chemical propulsion. In this paper some of these low cost, high energy missions will be reviewed. In particular, new families of non-Keplerian orbits will be investigated which are quite unique to solar sailing. These orbits have novel mission applications, many of which only require the use of only moderate performance solar sails. Since the orbits and applications are unique to solar sails, they are mission enabling rather than mission enhancing, compelling mission planners to develop and utilise solar sail technology.