Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges

McInnes, C.R. (2003) Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 361(1813), pp. 2989-3008. (doi: 10.1098/rsta.2003.1280)



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Solar sailing is emerging as a promising form of advanced spacecraft propulsion, which can enable exciting new space-science mission concepts. By exploiting the momentum transported by solar photons, solar sails can perform high-energy orbit transfer manoeuvres without the need for reaction mass. Missions such as planetary sample return, multiple small-body rendezvous and fast missions to the outer Solar System can therefore be enabled with the use of only a modest launch vehicle. In addition, new families of highly non-Keplerian orbits have been identified that are unique to solar sails, and can enable new ways of performing space-science missions. While the opportunities presented by solar sailing are appealing, engineering challenges are still to be solved before the technology finally comes to fruition.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:Published online 3 November 2003
Keywords:Solar sailing; Space missions; Spacecraft engineering
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: McInnes, C.R.
Subjects:T Technology > TL Motor vehicles. Aeronautics. Astronautics
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Aerospace Sciences
Journal Name:Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences
Publisher:Royal Society
Copyright Holders:© 2003 The Royal Society
First Published:First published in Philosophical transactions of the Royal Society of London (Series A) 361(1813):2989-3008
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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