Analysis of interplanetary solar sail trajectories with attitude dynamics

Andreas Borggrafe, Andreas Ohndorf, Bernd Dachwald, Wolfgang Sebolt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

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We present a new approach to the problem of optimal control of solar sails for
low-thrust trajectory optimization. The objective was to find the required control torque magnitudes in order to steer a solar sail in interplanetary space. A new steering strategy, controlling the solar sail with generic torques applied about the spacecraft body axes, is integrated into the existing low-thrust trajectory optimization software InTrance. This software combines artificial neural networks and evolutionary algorithms to find steering strategies close to the global optimum without an initial guess. Furthermore, we implement
a three rotational degree-of-freedom rigid-body attitude dynamics model to represent the solar sail in space. Two interplanetary transfers to Mars and Neptune are chosen to represent typical future solar sail mission scenarios. The results found with the new steering strategy are compared to the existing reference trajectories without attitude dynamics. The resulting control torques required to accomplish the missions are investigated, as they pose the primary requirements to a real on-board attitude control system.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in the Aeronautical Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationPart II
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2012
Event1st IAA Conference on Dynamics and Control of Space Systems - Porto, Portugal
Duration: 19 Mar 201221 Mar 2012


Conference1st IAA Conference on Dynamics and Control of Space Systems


  • solar sailing
  • interplanetary trajectory design
  • mission analysis


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