Orbital precession via cyclic pitch for the ultrasail system

Jennifer Hargens-Rysanek, Victoria L. Coverstone, Rodney L. Burton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


UltraSail is a non-traditional approach, utilizing innovative solar sail architecture to achieve sail areas approaching 1 kin-squared. The payload resides in a central bus. Attached to this bus are several "blades" of solar sail film material that are controllable by a tip satellite at the end of each blade. This paper focuses on the dynamics and control of this UltraSail blade/tip satellite system, specifically the precession of each tip satellite/blade system. One of the biggest challenges was to develop an efficient procedure to precess the spin-axis as the UltraSail orbits about the Sun. Two methods were proposed, one using the tip satellite thrusters to precess the spin-axis, and one utilizing the solar pressure force to provide the necessary AV by pitching the blades in a cyclic manner (Cyclic Pitch). These two methods were examined and compared. A model of the blade/tip satellite system was created and simulations were performed and animated in MATLAB™. Cyclically pitching was shown to be a viable method to precess the spin-axis of the blade/tip satellite system, as well as provide considerable fuel savings over using only thrusters.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAmerican Astronautical Society - Space Flight Mechanics 2007 - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences, Proceedings of the AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2007
Event17th Annual Space Flight Mechanics Meeting - Sedona, AZ, United States
Duration: Jan 28 2007Feb 1 2007

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
Volume127 PART 1
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Other17th Annual Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySedona, AZ

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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