Artificial three-body equilibria for hybrid low-thrust propulsion

Shahid Baig, Colin R. McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Citations (Scopus)
34 Downloads (Pure)


This paper proposes a new concept of creating artificial equilibrium points in the circular restricted three body problem, where the third body uses a hybrid of solar sail and solar electric propulsion. The work aims to investigate the use of a hybrid sail for artificial equilibrium points that are technologically di±cult with either of these propulsion systems alone. The hybrid sail has freedom in specifying the sail lightness number, then minimizing the required thrust acceleration from the solar electric propulsion thruster while satisfying the equilibrium condition. The stability analysis of such artificial equilibrium points by a linear method results in a linear time varying (mass) system. The freezing time method then provides unstable and marginally stable regions for hybrid solar sail artificial equilibria. We compare these propulsion systems with a given payload mass and mission life for a polar observation mission. For a near term sail assembly loading we find for the hybrid sail a substantially lower propellant mass compared to solar electric propulsion and lower sail length with respect to a solar sail, and a lower initial spacecraft mass.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1644-1655
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2008


  • solar sails
  • propulsion
  • control systems
  • three body problem
  • propulsion systems
  • equilibrium points

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