Solar sail technology for nanosatellites

Michael D. Souder, Matthew Westy

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


Solar sailing is an attractive means of spacecraft propulsion because it extracts momen-tum from electromagnetic radiation supplied by the Sun. This allows a solar sail spacecraft to accomplish new classes of missions that would otherwise require a prohibitive amount of propellant. Unfortunately, solar radiation pressure is meager, requiring a large area-to-mass ratio to produce significant accelerations. A solar sailing nanosatellite achieves this with a dramatically reduced mass allowing a smaller sail to generate significant accelerations. This sacrifice of slightly less capability for an immense gain in reduced cost and complexity is the motivation behind Stanfords solar sailing nanosatellite project, SailSat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc.
ISBN (Print)9781563479458
StatePublished - 2008

Publication series

NameAIAA/AAS Astrodynamics Specialist Conference and Exhibit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics


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