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Near minimum-time trajectories for solar sails

Otten, M. and McInnes, C.R. (2001) Near minimum-time trajectories for solar sails. Journal of Guidance, Control and Dynamics, 24 (5). pp. 632-634. ISSN 0731-5090

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SOLAR sailing has long been considered for a diverse range of future mission applications. As with other forms of low-thrust propulsion, trajectory optimization has been a focus of development activities. In particular, minimum-time solar-sail trajectories have been obtained by several authors for a range of mission applications. Almost all of these studies have used the Pontryagin principle of the calculus of variations to obtain minimum-time trajectories by the classical, indirect method (see, for example, Ref. 2). The indirect approach provides a continuous time history for the required solar sail steering angles. Only a few studies have used the competing direct approach, which recasts the task as a parameter optimization problem by discretizing the control variables. These studies have used many discrete segments for the sail steering angles to ensure a close approximation to the continuous steering angles provided by the indirect approach and hence a close approximation to the true minimum-time trajectory