## Abstract

Solar sailing is a propellantless propulsion method that takes advantage of solar

radiation pressure to generate thrust. The last decades have seen the launch of

several solar-sail missions to demonstrate the technology’s potential for space

exploration and exploitation. Even more missions are scheduled for launch in

the near future, including NASA’s ACS3 and NEA Scout missions and Gama’s

Alpha sailcraft. Although most of these sailcraft have flown – or will fly – in

LEO, where the planetary radiation pressure is strong (up to approximately 20%

of the solar radiation pressure), studies on the perturbing accelerations produced

by the Earth’s albedo and blackbody radiation have been conducted only to a

very limited first-order extent. This paper therefore provides a novel, detailed

analytical model for these perturbing accelerations, valid for double-sided perfectly

reflecting solar sails. The underlying assumptions of the model are presented

and its full derivation is described. A thorough analysis of the blackbody

and albedo radiation pressure accelerations is conducted for a variety of orbital

conditions and Sun-Earth-sail configurations. In order to quantify the accuracy

of the model, a comparison with the state of the art (the finite-disk radiation

source model) is provided. Ultimately, a variety of analyses to quantify the effect

of Earth’s albedo and blackbody radiation on the maneuvering capabilities

of solar sails are provided, using the orbit of the ACS3 mission as reference scenario.

These analyses show that, for an orbit-raising steering law, losses in the

altitude gain of 19.6% of the total gain are incurred over a 10-day orbit-raising

period. Similarly, losses in the inclination gain of up to 25% of the total gain are

observed when implementing an inclination-changing steering law. These results

highlight the non-negligible effect of uncontrolled planetary radiation pressure

acceleration on the maneuvering capabilities of solar sails in LEO.

radiation pressure to generate thrust. The last decades have seen the launch of

several solar-sail missions to demonstrate the technology’s potential for space

exploration and exploitation. Even more missions are scheduled for launch in

the near future, including NASA’s ACS3 and NEA Scout missions and Gama’s

Alpha sailcraft. Although most of these sailcraft have flown – or will fly – in

LEO, where the planetary radiation pressure is strong (up to approximately 20%

of the solar radiation pressure), studies on the perturbing accelerations produced

by the Earth’s albedo and blackbody radiation have been conducted only to a

very limited first-order extent. This paper therefore provides a novel, detailed

analytical model for these perturbing accelerations, valid for double-sided perfectly

reflecting solar sails. The underlying assumptions of the model are presented

and its full derivation is described. A thorough analysis of the blackbody

and albedo radiation pressure accelerations is conducted for a variety of orbital

conditions and Sun-Earth-sail configurations. In order to quantify the accuracy

of the model, a comparison with the state of the art (the finite-disk radiation

source model) is provided. Ultimately, a variety of analyses to quantify the effect

of Earth’s albedo and blackbody radiation on the maneuvering capabilities

of solar sails are provided, using the orbit of the ACS3 mission as reference scenario.

These analyses show that, for an orbit-raising steering law, losses in the

altitude gain of 19.6% of the total gain are incurred over a 10-day orbit-raising

period. Similarly, losses in the inclination gain of up to 25% of the total gain are

observed when implementing an inclination-changing steering law. These results

highlight the non-negligible effect of uncontrolled planetary radiation pressure

acceleration on the maneuvering capabilities of solar sails in LEO.

Original language | English |
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Title of host publication | 2022 AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference |

Number of pages | 20 |

Publication status | Published - 2022 |

Event | AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference 2022 - Charlotte, United States Duration: 7 Aug 2022 → 11 Aug 2022 |

### Conference

Conference | AAS/AIAA Astrodynamics Specialist Conference 2022 |
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Country/Territory | United States |

City | Charlotte |

Period | 7/08/22 → 11/08/22 |