A near-term roadmap for solar sailing

M. Macdonald, Colin McInnes, Gareth W. Hughes

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

21 Citations (Scopus)


This paper presents end-to-end system analysis studies of three Earth-centred missions that are significantly enhanced or enabled by solar sail technology, GeoSail, Geostorm and Polar Observer. The end-to-end system studies identify the technology progression from in-flight demonstrations through each mission in turn. Utilising the prior mission as a step towards the next leads to the realisation of much more technologically complex missions in the future. From completion of an initial technology demonstration mission to completion of the third mission in the sequence provides an early roadmap for solar sail technology, along with the developments required towards mid-term missions. As such, the technology requirements have been identified through a detailed sensitivity analysis, where the effect of each individual technology development is analysed and prioritised. Completion of this ambitious but realistic technology program would enable commitment to sail propulsion for future large missions, such as a Solar Polar Orbiter or a Heliopause Probe.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 55th International Astronautical Congress
Publication statusPublished - 2004


  • solar sails
  • space technology
  • guidance systems
  • control systems


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