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The Scientific World Journal
Volume 2015, Article ID 714371, 14 pages
Research Article

Dynamic and Structural Performances of a New Sailcraft Concept for Interplanetary Missions

1School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK
2Faculty of Engineering, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XW, UK
3Department of Astronautic, Electrical and Energy Engineering, Sapienza University of Rome, Via Salaria 851, 00138 Rome, Italy

Received 6 February 2015; Accepted 11 June 2015

Academic Editor: Manuel Lozano

Copyright © 2015 Alessandro Peloni et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Typical square solar-sail design is characterised by a central hub with four-quadrant sails, conferring to the spacecraft the classical X-configuration. One of the critical aspects related to this architecture is due to the large deformations of both membrane and booms, which leads to a reduction of the performance of the sailcraft in terms of thrust efficiency. As a consequence, stiffer sail architecture would be desirable, taking into account that the rigidity of the system strongly affects the orbital dynamics. In this paper, we propose a new solar-sail architecture, which is more rigid than the classical X-configuration. Among the main pros and cons that the proposed configuration presents, this paper aims to show the general concept, investigating the performances from the perspectives of both structural response and attitude control. Membrane deformations, structural offset, and sail vibration frequencies are determined through finite element method, adopting a variable pretensioning scheme. In order to evaluate the manoeuvring performances of this new solar-sail concept, a 35-degree manoeuvre is studied using a feedforward and feedback controller.