Solar sail hybrid trajectory optimization for non-Keplerian orbit transfers

Gareth W. Hughes, Colin McInnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


SOLAR sails have long been seen as an attractive concept for low-thrust propulsion.They transcend reliance on reaction mass and have the ability to provide a small, but continuous, acceleration. Because propellant mass is not an issue, high-performance sails can enable new exotic non-Keplerianor bits (NKOs)1 that are not feasible for conventional chemical or electric propulsion.A constant out-of plane sail force is utilized to raise the spacecraft's orbit high above the ecliptic plane in two- or three-body systems. Potential beneŽfits to the science community are large. Circular, displaced orbits can be used to provide continuous observation of the solar poles or to provide a unique vantage point for infrared astronomy. (There is much less resolution-limiting dust out of the ecliptic plane enabling smaller telescope mirror dimensions for equivalent performance.) Very high performance sails can even levitate, in equilibrium, at any point in space.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)602-604
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • solar sails
  • astronautical science
  • guidance systems
  • control systems
  • space


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