Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges.


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.

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@article{McInnes2003SolarSM, title={Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges.}, author={Colin R. McInnes}, journal={Philosophical transactions. Series A, Mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences}, year={2003}, volume={361 1813}, pages={2989-3008} }