In this paper, deployment mechanisms and performances of spinning and non-spinning solar sailcraft are compared and a new spinning octagonal sailcraft configuration, defined as OctaSail, is proposed. Generally, the key metric used to characterize the performance of a sailcraft is the characteristic acceleration. In this paper, four design parameters are used to compare the characteristic accelerations of various sailcraft configurations, which are membrane loading, mass of the payload, area of the membrane, and the length of the booms (non-spinning type) or tip mass attachment strings (spinning type). Simulation results show that spinning type sailcraft has higher characteristic acceleration due to their less mass for deployment system as well as their simpler deployment mechanism compared to non-spinning type sailcraft. Based on this observation, OctaSail is proposed, and its effectiveness in terms of deployment mechanism and performance is evaluated. It is found that the OctaSail design configuration offers significant advantages with higher characteristic acceleration compared to the other configurations. However, there is an operational limitation associated with spinning type sailcraft, known as the windmill effect. Therefore, a rigorous tradeoff study between design parameters should be performed before a decision on which type of solar sailcraft configuration to be used is made.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.