Paths not taken – the GOSSAMER roadmap’s other options

Spietz, P. et al. (2021) Paths not taken – the GOSSAMER roadmap’s other options. Advances in Space Research, 67(9), pp. 2912-2956. (doi: 10.1016/j.asr.2021.01.044)

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Highly efficient low-thrust propulsion is increasingly applied beyond commercial use, also in mainstream and flagship science missions, in combination with gravity assist propulsion. Another recent development is the growth of small spacecraft solutions, not in size but in numbers and individual capabilities. Just over ten years ago, the DLR-ESTEC GOSSAMER Roadmap to Solar Sailing was set up to guide technology developments towards a propellant-less and highly efficient class of spacecraft for solar system exploration and applications missions: small spacecraft solar sails designed for carefree handling and equipped with carried application modules. Soon, in three dedicated GOSSAMER Roadmap Science Working Groups it initiated studies of missions uniquely feasible with solar sails such as Displaced L1 (DL1) space weather advance warning and monitoring, Solar Polar Orbiter (SPO) delivery to very high inclination heliocentric orbit, and multiple Near-Earth Asteroid (NEA) rendezvous (MNR). Together, they demonstrate the capability of near-term solar sails to achieve at least in the inner solar system almost any kind of heliocentric orbit within 10 years, from the Earth-co-orbital to the extremely inclined, eccentric and even retrograde. Noted as part of the MNR study, sail-propelled head-on retrograde kinetic impactors (RKI) go to this extreme to achieve the highest possible specific kinetic energy for the deflection of hazardous asteroids. At DLR, the experience gained in the development of deployable membrane structures leading up to the successful ground deployment test of a (20 m)², i.e., 20 m by 20 m square solar sail at DLR Cologne in 1999 was revitalized and directed towards a 3-step small spacecraft development line from as-soon-as-possible sail deployment demonstration (GOSSAMER-1) via in-flight evaluation of sail attitude control actuators (GOSSAMER-2) to an envisaged proving-the-principle flight in the Earth-Moon system (GOSSAMER-3). First, it turned the concept of solar sail deployment on its head by introducing four separable Boom Sail Deployment Units (BSDU) to be discarded after deployment, enabling lightweight 3-axis stabilized sailcraft. By 2015, this effort culminated in the ground-qualified technology of the DLR GOSSAMER-1 deployment demonstrator Engineering Qualification Model (EQM). For mission types using separable payloads, such as SPO, MNR and RKI, design concepts can be derived from the BSDU characteristic of DLR GOSSAMER solar sail technology which share elements with the separation systems of asteroid nanolanders like MASCOT. These nano-spacecraft are an ideal match for solar sails in micro-spacecraft format whose launch configurations are compatible with ESPA and ASAP secondary payload platforms. Like any roadmap, this one contained much more than the planned route from departure to destination and the much shorter distance actually travelled. It is full of lanes, narrow and wide, detours and shortcuts, options and decision branches. Some became the path taken on which we previously reported. More were explored along the originally planned path or as new sidings in search of better options when circumstance changed and the project had to take another turn. But none were dead ends, they just faced the inevitable changes when roadmaps face realities and they were no longer part of the road ahead. To us, they were valuable lessons learned or options up our sleeves. But for future sailors they may be on their road ahead.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Ceriotti, Dr Matteo and McInnes, Professor Colin
Authors: Spietz, P., Spröwitz, T., Seefeldt, P., Grundmann, J. T., Jahnke, R., Mikschl, T., Mikulz, E., Montenegro, S., Reershemius, S., Renger, T., Ruffer, M., Sasaki, K., Sznajder, M., Tóth, N., Ceriotti, M., Dachwald, B., Macdonald, M., McInnes, C., Seboldt, W., Quantius, D., Bauer, W., Wiedemann, C., Grimm, C. D., Herčík, D., Ho, T.-M., Lange, C., and Schmitz, N.
College/School:College of Science and Engineering > School of Engineering > Systems Power and Energy
Journal Name:Advances in Space Research
ISSN (Online):1879-1948
Published Online:11 February 2021
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2021 Elsevier
First Published:First published in Advances in Space Research 67(9):2912-2956
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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