Variable-geometry solar sailing: the possibilities of the quasi-rhombic pyramid

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Ceriotti, Matteo ; Harkness, Patrick ; McRobb, Malcolm (2014)

Variable geometry solar sailing potentially offers enhanced delta-V capabilities and new orbital solutions. We propose a device with such capabilities, based upon an adjustable quasi-rhombic pyramid sail geometry, and examine the benefits that can be derived from this additional flexibility. The enabling technology for this concept is the bevel crux drive, which can maintain tension in the solar sail across a wide range of apex angles. This paper explores the concept of such a device, discussing both the capabilities of the architecture and the possibilities opened up in terms of orbital and attitude dynamics.
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