Solar sailing is emerging as a promising form of advanced spacecraft propulsion, which can enable exciting new space-science mission concepts. By exploiting the momentum transported by solar photons, solar sails can perform high-energy orbittransfer manoeuvres without the need for reaction mass. Missions such as planetary sample return, multiple small-body rendezvous and fast missions to the outer Solar System can therefore be enabled with the use of only a modest launch vehicle. In addition, new families of highly non-Keplerian orbits have been identifed that are unique to solar sails, and can enable new ways of performing space-science missions. While the opportunities presented by solar sailing are appealing, engineering challenges are still to be solved before the technology comes to fruition.
|Number of pages||19|
|Journal||Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences|
|Publication status||Published - 15 Dec 2003|
- solar sailing
- solar photons
- space travel