Small-body encounters using solar sail propulsion

Gareth W. Hughes, Colin R. McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

16 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Cometary Rendezvous and Flybys have large V requirements, which impose almost unattainable, and sometimes prohibitive, demands on the propellant budget of conventional, chemical propulsion. Ion Propulsion is a viable alternative, but as the number and difficulty of target objectives increases then the potential of this technology becomes rapidly less attractive. Solar sails exhibit an extremely high effective specific impulse over long mission durations. No propellant is required so that large changes in V could be realised without necessitating the introduction of complex gravity assists, which prolong mission duration and restrict launch opportunities. The endurance of the structures and materials are thus the only limiting factors dictating the number and range of bodies with which the solar-sail propelled vehicle can encounter throughout its lifetime. In this paper we have analysed a number of high-energy, small-body mission scenarios using a parameterised approach to sail control representation. The sail cone and clock angle histories were characterised by linear interpolation across a set of discrete nodes. The optimal control problem was thus transcribed to a Non-Linear Programming problem to select the optimal controls at the nodes that minimised the transfer time while enforcing the cartesian end-point boundary constraints (6 states for rendezvous, 3 for flypast). The Fortran77 optimisation package NPSOL 5.0 was used for this purpose with the variational equations of motion formulated in modified equinoctial orbital elements and integrated using a variable-order, adaptive step-size Adams-Moulton-Bashforth method. We present optimal rendezvous trajectories to Short-Period Comets such as 46P/Wirtanen in 484 days with a sail characteristic acceleration of 1.9 mms-2, and with 2P/Encke in 574 days with a characteristic acceleration of 1.0 mms-2. An analysis using high-performance sails has been conducted to permit fast flyby intercepts of newly discovered Long Period Comets (LPCs). Previous examples adopted were C/1995 O1/Hale- Bopp, C/1995 Y1/Hyakutake, C/1999 T1/McNaught-Hartley, C/1999 F1/Catalina, C/1999 N2/Lynn and C/1999 H1/Lee, to demonstrate the feasibility of a late launch to quickly intercept a new LPC using a solar sail. Since the time between discovery of a new LPC such as Hale-Bopp and perihelion passage was less then 2 years, this then leaves a very short time-span for orbit determination, preparation, planning and operational phases. Preliminary mission analysis shows that a Hale-Bopp perihelion flypast could have been achieved, with a sail characteristic acceleration of 5.0 mms-2, by launching just 209 days before comet perihelion passage. With a characteristic acceleration of 2.0 mms-2 Hale-Bopp could also have been intercepted at its descending node by launching 270 days before nodal descent. The sail could then have returned to rendezvous with the Earth 261 days later, giving a minimum total mission turn-around time of 531 days. An alternative, dual flyby scenario has been investigated, to continue on to C/1997 D1/Mueller, after which solar system escape was reached and arrival at Heliopause would occur in 12 years. Solar Electric Propulsion has been adopted as the primary propulsion system for the DAWN dual asteroid rendezvous mission scheduled for launch in 2006. The objective of this mission is to rendezvous with inner main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. We have also investigated solar sail adaptation to this mission, for the same launch date and 11 month orbiter stay-times. We have extended the mission objectives to two further asteroids, Lucina and Lutetia, with the aim of demonstrating a Mainbelt Asteroid Survey scenario.
LanguageEnglish
Pages140-150
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Spacecraft and Rockets
Volume41
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Fingerprint

solar propulsion
Asteroids
ice ridge
encounters
Propulsion
rendezvous
Hale-Bopp
comet
comets
Launching
Propellants
asteroid
Ion propulsion
Solar sails
asteroids
Turnaround time
Electric propulsion
Solar system
Nonlinear programming
launching

Keywords

  • solar sailing
  • solar sails
  • propulsion
  • spacecraft
  • guidance systems

Cite this

Hughes, Gareth W. ; McInnes, Colin R. / Small-body encounters using solar sail propulsion. In: Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets. 2004 ; Vol. 41, No. 1. pp. 140-150.
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Small-body encounters using solar sail propulsion. / Hughes, Gareth W.; McInnes, Colin R.

In: Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, Vol. 41, No. 1, 2004, p. 140-150.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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T1 - Small-body encounters using solar sail propulsion

AU - Hughes, Gareth W.

AU - McInnes, Colin R.

PY - 2004

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N2 - Cometary Rendezvous and Flybys have large V requirements, which impose almost unattainable, and sometimes prohibitive, demands on the propellant budget of conventional, chemical propulsion. Ion Propulsion is a viable alternative, but as the number and difficulty of target objectives increases then the potential of this technology becomes rapidly less attractive. Solar sails exhibit an extremely high effective specific impulse over long mission durations. No propellant is required so that large changes in V could be realised without necessitating the introduction of complex gravity assists, which prolong mission duration and restrict launch opportunities. The endurance of the structures and materials are thus the only limiting factors dictating the number and range of bodies with which the solar-sail propelled vehicle can encounter throughout its lifetime. In this paper we have analysed a number of high-energy, small-body mission scenarios using a parameterised approach to sail control representation. The sail cone and clock angle histories were characterised by linear interpolation across a set of discrete nodes. The optimal control problem was thus transcribed to a Non-Linear Programming problem to select the optimal controls at the nodes that minimised the transfer time while enforcing the cartesian end-point boundary constraints (6 states for rendezvous, 3 for flypast). The Fortran77 optimisation package NPSOL 5.0 was used for this purpose with the variational equations of motion formulated in modified equinoctial orbital elements and integrated using a variable-order, adaptive step-size Adams-Moulton-Bashforth method. We present optimal rendezvous trajectories to Short-Period Comets such as 46P/Wirtanen in 484 days with a sail characteristic acceleration of 1.9 mms-2, and with 2P/Encke in 574 days with a characteristic acceleration of 1.0 mms-2. An analysis using high-performance sails has been conducted to permit fast flyby intercepts of newly discovered Long Period Comets (LPCs). Previous examples adopted were C/1995 O1/Hale- Bopp, C/1995 Y1/Hyakutake, C/1999 T1/McNaught-Hartley, C/1999 F1/Catalina, C/1999 N2/Lynn and C/1999 H1/Lee, to demonstrate the feasibility of a late launch to quickly intercept a new LPC using a solar sail. Since the time between discovery of a new LPC such as Hale-Bopp and perihelion passage was less then 2 years, this then leaves a very short time-span for orbit determination, preparation, planning and operational phases. Preliminary mission analysis shows that a Hale-Bopp perihelion flypast could have been achieved, with a sail characteristic acceleration of 5.0 mms-2, by launching just 209 days before comet perihelion passage. With a characteristic acceleration of 2.0 mms-2 Hale-Bopp could also have been intercepted at its descending node by launching 270 days before nodal descent. The sail could then have returned to rendezvous with the Earth 261 days later, giving a minimum total mission turn-around time of 531 days. An alternative, dual flyby scenario has been investigated, to continue on to C/1997 D1/Mueller, after which solar system escape was reached and arrival at Heliopause would occur in 12 years. Solar Electric Propulsion has been adopted as the primary propulsion system for the DAWN dual asteroid rendezvous mission scheduled for launch in 2006. The objective of this mission is to rendezvous with inner main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. We have also investigated solar sail adaptation to this mission, for the same launch date and 11 month orbiter stay-times. We have extended the mission objectives to two further asteroids, Lucina and Lutetia, with the aim of demonstrating a Mainbelt Asteroid Survey scenario.

AB - Cometary Rendezvous and Flybys have large V requirements, which impose almost unattainable, and sometimes prohibitive, demands on the propellant budget of conventional, chemical propulsion. Ion Propulsion is a viable alternative, but as the number and difficulty of target objectives increases then the potential of this technology becomes rapidly less attractive. Solar sails exhibit an extremely high effective specific impulse over long mission durations. No propellant is required so that large changes in V could be realised without necessitating the introduction of complex gravity assists, which prolong mission duration and restrict launch opportunities. The endurance of the structures and materials are thus the only limiting factors dictating the number and range of bodies with which the solar-sail propelled vehicle can encounter throughout its lifetime. In this paper we have analysed a number of high-energy, small-body mission scenarios using a parameterised approach to sail control representation. The sail cone and clock angle histories were characterised by linear interpolation across a set of discrete nodes. The optimal control problem was thus transcribed to a Non-Linear Programming problem to select the optimal controls at the nodes that minimised the transfer time while enforcing the cartesian end-point boundary constraints (6 states for rendezvous, 3 for flypast). The Fortran77 optimisation package NPSOL 5.0 was used for this purpose with the variational equations of motion formulated in modified equinoctial orbital elements and integrated using a variable-order, adaptive step-size Adams-Moulton-Bashforth method. We present optimal rendezvous trajectories to Short-Period Comets such as 46P/Wirtanen in 484 days with a sail characteristic acceleration of 1.9 mms-2, and with 2P/Encke in 574 days with a characteristic acceleration of 1.0 mms-2. An analysis using high-performance sails has been conducted to permit fast flyby intercepts of newly discovered Long Period Comets (LPCs). Previous examples adopted were C/1995 O1/Hale- Bopp, C/1995 Y1/Hyakutake, C/1999 T1/McNaught-Hartley, C/1999 F1/Catalina, C/1999 N2/Lynn and C/1999 H1/Lee, to demonstrate the feasibility of a late launch to quickly intercept a new LPC using a solar sail. Since the time between discovery of a new LPC such as Hale-Bopp and perihelion passage was less then 2 years, this then leaves a very short time-span for orbit determination, preparation, planning and operational phases. Preliminary mission analysis shows that a Hale-Bopp perihelion flypast could have been achieved, with a sail characteristic acceleration of 5.0 mms-2, by launching just 209 days before comet perihelion passage. With a characteristic acceleration of 2.0 mms-2 Hale-Bopp could also have been intercepted at its descending node by launching 270 days before nodal descent. The sail could then have returned to rendezvous with the Earth 261 days later, giving a minimum total mission turn-around time of 531 days. An alternative, dual flyby scenario has been investigated, to continue on to C/1997 D1/Mueller, after which solar system escape was reached and arrival at Heliopause would occur in 12 years. Solar Electric Propulsion has been adopted as the primary propulsion system for the DAWN dual asteroid rendezvous mission scheduled for launch in 2006. The objective of this mission is to rendezvous with inner main-belt asteroids, Vesta and Ceres. We have also investigated solar sail adaptation to this mission, for the same launch date and 11 month orbiter stay-times. We have extended the mission objectives to two further asteroids, Lucina and Lutetia, with the aim of demonstrating a Mainbelt Asteroid Survey scenario.

KW - solar sailing

KW - solar sails

KW - propulsion

KW - spacecraft

KW - guidance systems

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SP - 140

EP - 150

JO - Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets

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JF - Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets

SN - 0022-4650

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