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The Strathprints institutional repository is a digital archive of University of Strathclyde research outputs. Strathprints provides access to thousands of Open Access research papers by University of Strathclyde researchers, including those from the School of Psychological Sciences & Health - but also papers by researchers based within the Faculties of Science, Engineering, Humanities & Social Sciences, and from the Strathclyde Business School.

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Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges

McInnes, Colin (2003) Solar sailing: mission applications and engineering challenges. Philosophical Transactions A: Mathematical, Physical and Engineering Sciences, 361 (1813). pp. 2989-3008. ISSN 1364-503X

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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.