Matthew West

Solar sail technology for nanosatellites

M. Souder and M. West

in Proceedings of the AIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit, 2008.

Solar sailing is an attractive means of spacecraft propulsion because it extracts momentum from electromagnetic radiation supplied by the Sun. This allows a solar sail spacecraft to accomplish new classes of missions that would otherwise require a prohibitive amount of propellant. Unfortunately, solar radiation pressure is meager, requiring a large area-to-mass ratio to produce significant accelerations. A solar sailing nanosatellite achieves this with a dramatically reduced mass allowing a smaller sail to generate significant accelerations. This sacrifice of slightly less capability for an immense gain in reduced cost and complexity is the motivation behind Stanfords solar sailing nanosatellite project, SailSat.

DOI: 10.2514/6.2008-7078

Full text: SoWe2008.pdf